Preview: Cardinals battling bullpen struggles in AL swing
JUL 03, 2013 1:19a ET
Pujols and the Angels hope to take advantage of a matchup with struggling St. Louis Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller and earn a season high-tying eighth straight win Wednesday night.
Pujols went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk in his first matchup with St. Louis since leaving to sign a 10-year, $240 million deal with Los Angeles after the 2011 season. The Angels, though, had few problems after scoring five runs in the second inning Tuesday, winning 5-1.
"It was a little weird. But I was fine, guys. I swear. I'm being honest," Pujols said. "I mean, it would have been a little different if it was in St. Louis. I mean, you can't forget the special times you had with those guys during those 11 years there. That's something nobody can take away - the success I had there and how those fans and everybody in the community treated me."
While with St. Louis, Pujols became the first player to hit .300 with at least 30 home runs in his first 10 seasons but the three-time NL MVP has seen his average dip to .247 during a 4-for-37 slump.
Pujols batted a career-low .285 in his first season with the Angels (40-43), who will try to match their eight straight wins from May 18-26.
Facing the scuffling Miller (8-6, 2.79 ERA) could prove beneficial for Los Angeles and Pujols as he's 1-3 with a 6.38 ERA in his last four starts. The right-hander has also posted an 11.05 ERA in his first set of back-to-back defeats.
Miller failed to pitch five innings for the first time in 17 career starts Friday in Oakland, giving up five runs in 1 2/3 frames in a 6-1 loss. That defeat was one of seven in the past nine games for the Cardinals (49-33).
"There are going to be tough times where they have to push through and figure out how to still get outs," manager Mike Matheny told the team's website. "He's been throwing the ball well as a whole, and we'll see how he works through this now."
The Angels are batting .290 while outscoring their past seven opponents 43-19, but Jerome Williams (5-3, 3.21) couldn't benefit in his most recent outing.
The right-hander gave up one run over 6 1/3 innings Friday in Houston but did not get a decision in a 4-2 win. The Angels scored three runs after he exited.
Williams is 1-2 in his last four starts despite a respectable 3.91 ERA. Los Angeles has given him one run or fewer in three of those games.
Williams is 3-3 with a 4.71 ERA in seven career starts against the Cardinals but the most recent was April 21, 2006, while with the Chicago Cubs. Pujols hit a two-run homer off him in that 9-3 loss, and Yadier Molina, the only current Cardinals player to face him in that game, singled in one of his two at-bats.