Pujols passes Schmidt on HR list, hits 3 in DH sweep of Red Sox
Although Albert Pujols doesn’t much care for celebrations outside of October, he smiled and stood still when Mike Trout and Erick Aybar ran up and doused him with two postgame buckets of ice and liquid.
After a landmark night even by this prolific power hitter’s standards, Pujols wanted to soak it in — and soak in it — for just a moment.
Pujols hit three homers while the Angels swept a doubleheader from the Boston Red Sox on Monday, connecting twice and seizing the overall major-league lead from Trout during Los Angeles’ 7-3 victory in the nightcap.
Pujols homered in both games of a doubleheader for the first time in his career. He caught and passed Mike Schmidt for 15th place in baseball history, hitting his 549th career homer in the seventh to essentially wrap up a four-game sweep of the woeful Sox.
"I enjoy it because I was able to do something tonight to help my ballclub win," Pujols said. "It’s about the team, man. It’s not about personal success. We’re on top right now, and we can’t take that for granted."
The $240 million Dominican slugger has hit his stride in his fourth season with the Angels, who are soaring right along with his homers. The Angels (52-40) have won five straight and 15 of 18 overall while Pujols and Trout chase the overall major-league lead in homers.
Trout also homered and rookie Andrew Heaney pitched seven strong innings in the second game of the Angels’ first home doubleheader since 2003, caused by the first rainout at Angel Stadium in 20 years Sunday. Pujols, Kole Calhoun and David Freese homered during an 11-1 win in the first game.
"I don’t know anything about hitting, but it’s fun to watch the ball leave the yard," Heaney said.
Pujols cracked his 547th homer during the Angels’ seven-run second inning in the opener. He reached the short left-field porch with a solo shot in the second inning of the nightcap, passing Ty Cobb for 12th place in baseball history with his 1,137th extra-base hit.
After Trout pulled back even with Pujols with his 28th homer in the fifth, Pujols nudged back ahead with his 29th. The All-Star duo homered in the same game for the seventh time this year and the 24th time in their 3½ seasons together.
David Ortiz posed at the plate when he hit a two-run homer in the sixth for the Red Sox, who were outscored 22-4 in the series. With its fifth straight defeat, Boston (42-51) dropped into a last-place tie with Seattle in the overall AL standings.
"This was a disappointing series all the way around," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We fully expected to come in and put together a better series than what played out. Tonight, after a tough first game, I thought we came out swinging the bats well. But there were a number of hard-hit balls right at some people."
Aybar had a two-run single during a four-run rally with two outs in the third inning of the nightcap. The Angels consistently tagged knuckleballer Steven Wright (3-3), who yielded six hits and six runs in the Southern California native’s first appearance since June 20.
"I felt like I was maybe I was overthrowing (the knuckleball) just a little bit, but it was definitely moving more than it has in a while," Wright said. "So it’s definitely gets frustrating, because when you can’t throw it for strikes, it does limit your options."
The Angels limited Boston to four runs in 36 innings, continuing their strong season out of the break. After All-Star Hector Santiago (7-4) labored into the sixth inning to win the opener, Heaney (4-0) won his fourth straight decision in his first month with the Angels, yielding five hits without a walk. Joe Smith got the final four outs for his first save.
Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia changed his mind about sitting out the nightcap to be cautious with his previously strained right hamstring. He went 0 for 2 with a walk in the opener, and he went 0 for 4 in the second game.
Angels: Reliever Cory Rasmus was added for the nightcap as the 26th player allowed in doubleheaders.
Red Sox: Promising LHP Brian Johnson makes his major-league debut in Houston.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (4-7, 4.85 ERA) opens a home series with Minnesota. He has been the weakest link in a stellar rotation, and could lose his spot to Jered Weaver if he struggles again.