Pujols nears 3,000 hits as Angels host Orioles

Albert Pujols can become the fourth player in major league history with 3,000 hits and 600 home runs when the Los Angeles Angels play the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of a six-game homestand on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.

Pujols homered and doubled for the Angels in a 10-7 win against the Orioles on Wednesday night, giving him 2,998 hits in his 18-year major league career.

Only Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez have reached the 3,000-hit, 600-home run plateaus. Pujols hit his 620th home run in the first inning Wednesday to give Los Angeles a 2-1 lead.

“We’re focused on playing baseball and so is Albert,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters after the win.

The Angels (18-12) will try for their first three-game sweep of the Orioles since Aug. 18-20, 2011, at Angel Stadium.

Pujols is 4-for-15 in his career against Baltimore’s Thursday starter, Chris Tillman, who will try to save the Orioles (8-22) from their worst start since 1988, when they lost their first 21 games of the season.

Tillman (1-4, 7.03 ERA) was born in Anaheim and went to Fountain Valley High School, about 10 miles west of Angel Stadium. He’s coming off his first win since May 7, 2017, throwing seven shutout innings and allowing one hit in a 6-0 win against the visiting Detroit Tigers on Friday.

Tillman had not pitched past the sixth inning since Aug. 11, 2016.

“It was fun to watch,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We all know what it could mean to us if Chris could get going like Chris is capable.”

Tillman is 3-0 in his career against the Angels with a 2.84 ERA. He hasn’t pitched in Anaheim since July 23, 2014.

Ian Kinsler, Luis Valbuena and Kole Calhoun have had the most success off Tillman among current Angels.

Kinsler is 8-for-26 with two home runs, Valbuena is 4-for-11 with a home run, and Calhoun is 3-for-8 with a home run. Calhoun could use some momentum, as he hit .172 in April and is off to a 1-for-8 start in May.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado is 3-for-4 in each of his past two games after ending an 0-for-34 streak in a 3-2 victory against the Orioles on Tuesday.

“I started seeing the ball better, trying to get a good pitch to hit, and not trying to do too much,” he told Fox Sports West after Wednesday’s win. “Whatever happens, happens.”

Jaime Barria (1-1, 3.86 ERA) is expected to be added to the Angels roster and make his third major league start on the mound in the series finale.

He made his major league debut on April 11, allowing one run and one hit in five innings of a 7-2 victory against the Texas Rangers.

The 21-year-old Panamanian didn’t last as long in his second start 11 days later, mainly because of a major league-record 21-pitch at-bat against San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who eventually flied out to right.

Barria ended up throwing 49 pitches in the scoreless first inning before departing after allowing two runs and five hits over two innings in the 4-2 loss to the visiting Giants.