Albert Pujols gets 2,999th hit, Angels blast Orioles 12-3
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Angel Stadium crowd rose in breathless unison when Albert Pujols stepped up for his final try at his 3,000th career hit before the Los Angeles Angels left town on a five-game road trip.
The unnatural silence was broken by the crack of Pujols’ bat, but the ball popped harmlessly into right field.
Although those Angels fans got to see No. 2,999, Pujols’ milestone hit remained tantalizingly out of reach Thursday night.
They still roared for their slugger and for another blowout win by their surging team.
”Obviously, I wanted to do it here,” Pujols said. ”But it wasn’t meant to be this week.”
After moving to the brink of becoming the 32nd member of the 3,000-hit club in the second inning, the 38-year-old Pujols couldn’t reach the mark in his final three plate appearances. He had hoped to do it for his Anaheim fans, but he’ll have to try again Friday in Seattle.
”It was pretty special to hear them,” Pujols said. ”They’re aware of the history that’s about to happen. They support every player, not just me.”
After getting hit by a 2-2 pitch in the fourth and being retired on a foul popup in the sixth, Pujols flied out to right in the eighth against Darren O’Day. When he finally reaches the mark, Pujols will join Hank Aaron as the only players with 600 doubles and 600 homers among their 3,000 hits.
But he’ll probably do it at Safeco Field instead of the Big A.
”We were hoping he could do it here, and he had some great at-bats,” said Justin Upton, who had three hits. ”He just didn’t get that last one. It happens.”
The Angels didn’t need any more offense from Pujols while sweeping the three-game series and scoring 25 runs against Baltimore’s beleaguered pitching staff.
Mike Trout started the bonanza with a run-scoring triple during a five-run first inning, and he added an RBI single in the three-run second to chase Chris Tillman (1-5).
Angels rookie right-hander Jaime Barria (2-1) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his third career start, finishing with six innings of four-hit ball.
Pujols doubled against Miguel Castro in the second inning, scoring Trout and Upton to put the Angels ahead 8-0. Simmons then got a two-run double and Valbuena added a two-run single in the fourth for a 12-0 lead.
Manny Machado drove in two runs for the last-place Orioles, who have lost 15 of 18.
”We got in another big hole early on,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. ”We had to ask our guys to get out of another one, and it’s tough.”
Tillman got only three outs while yielding seven hits and seven runs in a disastrous start in his hometown. Showalter declined to speculate on whether the longtime Baltimore starter’s spot in the rotation could be in trouble, but five of Tillman’s six starts this season have been fairly rough.
”There’s a lot of things that have been going wrong, but we know what we’re capable of,” Tillman said. ”It’s not fun, but I know the work that’s going in. I’ve just got to keep working and executing and playing better.”
While the stadium focused on Pujols’ quest, Barria dominated the Orioles’ lineup. The 21-year-old Panamanian prospect didn’t allow a hit until Trey Mancini’s one-out single in the sixth.
Barria is in his third stint with the Angels this season, coming up and down from Triple-A Salt Lake to patch the holes in Los Angeles’ injury-plagued rotation. The right-hander worked quickly and efficiently against the Orioles’ struggling lineup, allowing only two walks in the first four innings.
Baltimore strung together four singles and scored two runs in the sixth, but Barria pitched his way out of the inning and left to a standing ovation.
Angels star Shohei Ohtani went 2 for 3 with two singles and a walk, scoring two runs and driving in another. The Japanese two-way sensation had the fifth multihit game of his rookie season.
Orioles: Chance Sisco was back behind the plate after leaving Tuesday’s game when his head collided with Pedro Alvarez’s elbow while they chased a foul popup. Sisco said he had a facial bruise, but no concussion symptoms.
Angels: The starting rotation is still a carousel thanks to early season injuries for Matt Shoemaker, J.C. Ramirez and Nick Tropeano, among others. Barria came up to take a turn, and the Angels sent OF Ryan Schimpf back to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room.
Orioles: Andrew Cashner (1-4, 4.76 ERA) takes the mound for the opener of a weekend series in Oakland.
Angels: Garrett Richards (3-1, 3.58 ERA) looks to rebound from a miserable start last weekend against the Yankees when the Angels open a series at Seattle. Richards hasn’t faced the Mariners since 2015.
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