Pujols, Angels tee off on Astros

Albert Pujols has hit more home runs off of Astros pitchers than any other team.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — It doesn’t matter that the lowly Astros were looking formidable for a few innings. Albert Pujols knows just what pitch to hit.

And it doesn’t matter that once again the Angels fell behind by five runs early. They always seem to know just how to recover.

A three-home run inning erased a 5-0 deficit and then some. Astros pitchers combined for 74 pitches in an inning that lasted 54 minutes and ultimately, the eight runs scored by the Angels led them to an 11-5 win Saturday night at Angel Stadium. 

During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Ducks affectionately earned the nickname "The Most Interesting Team in the League" with the myriad of ways they came back to win and the never-ending storylines that spilled forth from their locker room. 

In the seventh inning, the Ducks’ neighbors down the road made a bid to contend for the same title.

Down 5-2 coming into the bottom of the seventh, David Freese hit a pinch-hit two-run home run to put the Angels back by one. Nearly an hour passed and after two more home runs, eight earned runs and one crazed fan later, the Angels were up 10-5. 

"Big inning at the right time," Scioscia said. "Freese got us close and Albert got us a huge hit at the right time to give us a lead. Once our guys got rolling we just didn’t want it to end."

Pujols had the biggest hit of the inning, a two-run shot that ultimately decided the game when it gave the Angels a definitive lead.

"I kind of hit it on the end of the bat a little bit," Pujols said. "Obviously, it’s a great feeling, great swing and that was a key moment right there."

Pujols (3-for-5, three RBI) has hit more home runs off of Astros pitchers than any other team in history, and this homer in particular was No. 45 against Houston. Pujols now has 511 home runs all-time, moving him up No. 23 and tying him with Mel Ott.

Shortly after Pujols belted his massive shot, a fan ran on the field and proceeded to elude Angel Stadium security for a few comical minutes. A guard nearly collided with Pujols mid-trot, but the slugger noticed nothing.

The eventful inning finally ended when Mike Trout popped out to center field. Oddly enough, in an 0-for-5 day, Trout recorded both the second and third outs of the bottom half of the inning.

"How long did it feel for me?" Scioscia said. "Well, not real long for us, but it seems like on the other side it went on for days."

Hector Santiago was mostly effective until Chris Carter drilled a 2-1 changeup over the fence for a grand slam that put the Astros ahead 5-0 in the third inning. He last five innings, giving up five earned and striking out seven. He still failed to earn his first win of the season, but his teammates eliminated him from the decision.

"Every night you kind of expect it with our lineup, that they’re going to go out there and do the same thing," Santiago said. "Three home runs and batting around, just one after another…That’s impressive and fun to watch."

Exactly half of the Angels’ 50 wins have been of the comeback variety. The series against Houston was effectively won by three-straight comeback wins, and the Halos have a chance to sweep the Astros Sunday.

"I don’t know if any teams are going to roll over and quit, but our team is going to keep playing baseball," Scioscia said.