St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols homered on Saturday to pull into a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth place on the all-time list. On Sunday, in the series finale against the Pirates, Pujols hit career home run No. 697 to pass Rodriguez and occupy fourth place all by himself.
That one came on a high fastball from Chase De Jong that left the bat at 105.5 mph and traveled 403 feet. That’s also Pujols 18th of this, his age-42 season. Note that the blast was a clutch one, as the Cardinals trailed by a score of 2-1 in the ninth at the time of homer No. 697. Shortly after, Tyler O’Neill also homered to push the score to 4-2, which held up for the first-place Cardinals. For the year, Pujols is now batting .266/.338/.528.
Pujols now needs just three more home runs in order to become just the fourth player in MLB history to reach the 700 home run threshold. The other three are Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714).
St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol always has Pujols in the lineup against left-handers, and he’s usually the pinch-hitter of first resort when not in the lineup. If the Cardinals are able to clinch the NL Central with some schedule left to play — quite possible given their sizable lead over the Brewers — then Pujols would likely become an everyday presence in the lineup. That of course would give him additional chances to reach 700. Of course, given his power outputs in the second half, he may not even need those extra opportunities.