Angels’ Pujols looking for wins with milestone accomplished

For the record, the Los Angeles AngelsTyler Skaggs will take on the Seattle MarinersMarco Gonzales in a matchup of left-handers Saturday night at Safeco Field.

But nobody on either team was thinking about that Friday, not with the semi-retirement of the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki a day earlier and the pursuit of career hit No. 3,000 by the Angels’ Albert Pujols.

While the pregame talk was all about Suzuki and his transition into a front-office role, Pujols took center stage after the first pitch was delivered.

Pujols reached the milestone in the fifth inning, hitting a single to right field off Mariners starter Mike Leake in a 5-0 victory.

“I was really excited, but at the same time you still have a game you need to play and you still need to focus to win that game,” Pujols said. “That’s what I told those guys. Let’s go win that game so it can taste a little better with a win.”

Pujols, 38, became the 32nd player in major league history to reach 3,000 hits. He’s the second Dominican-born player to accomplish the feat, after Adrian Beltre.

Pujols also became the fourth player with 3,000 hits and 600 home runs. The others are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

“I’m aware of the legacy and the people that I tie and am on the same page right now,” Pujols said. “But at the end of the day it’s about winning a championship. Nothing would be more special than in September and October and playing in the playoffs and bringing a championship back to the city of Anaheim.”

Prior to the game, Pujols spent some time chatting with Suzuki on the field.

“This is something we can all cheer, even though we are in the same league and we are enemies,” Suzuki said through a translator before the game. “It’s a moment where all fans, everybody, can root for and cheer him on. So I will be doing that.”

Suzuki recalled his own chase for hit No. 3,000 late in the 2016 season … and the anxiety that came with it.

Suzuki was a backup outfielder for the Miami Marlins at the time. He got hit No, 2,998, then waited eight days for his 2,999th, getting only six pinch-hitting opportunities during that span.

The next day he got a start and tripled for No. 3,000.

“I’d have been so stressed out I’d probably have to go to the hospital,” Suzuki said. “The timing of it, it was at the end of the season and only had so much time to do it. He’s earlier in the season, so it’s better that way.”

Skaggs (3-2, 3.03 ERA) suffered a 2-1 loss to the New York Yankees in his last appearance Sunday, allowing a two-run homer to Gary Sanchez.

“Tough game,” said Skaggs, who allowed three hits and struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings. “One bad pitch.”

Skaggs is 1-2 with a 4.81 ERA in seven career starts against the Mariners, with 41 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. In his last start at Safeco Field, last Aug. 20, Skaggs pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

Gonzales (3-2, 5.02) is coming off a 10-4 victory at Cleveland in which he allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, with one walk and four strikeouts.

In two career starts against the Angels, Gonzales is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA.