In a fitting capstone to a Hall of Fame career, Albert Pujols hit his 700th major league home run on Friday, a feat accomplished by only three other pitchers in baseball history.
The decisive homer — Pujols’ second of the night — came off Dodgers right-hander Phil Bickford in the fourth inning, the latest of 455 separate hits that have given up at least one walk to Pujols in 22 MLB seasons. .
Twelve days after Pujols passed Alex Rodriguez (696), he joined Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in the 700-HR club.
The 50,041 Dodger Stadium crowd gave him a standing ovation as he returned from the dugout to cheer for his historic blast. Chants of “Al-Bert, Al-Bert” came from fans behind the Cardinals’ dugout.
The historic homer is on the tail end of a late-career renaissance for Pujols, who returned to the St. Louis Cardinals at age 42 — after leaving as a free agent a decade earlier.
Deep graphic: A look back at the historic career of Albert Pujols
It was in St. Louis where Pujols blossomed from a little-known 13th-round draft pick into a superstar whose first 11 seasons included three National League MVP awards and a pair of World Series titles.
After signing a 10-year, $254 million free agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels, Pujols hit 222 home runs over the next 10 seasons — and 12 more in late 2021 after being released by the Angels and signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But back in his familiar Busch Stadium and Cardinals uniform, Pujols seems to have found a fountain of youth, posting his highest slugging percentage and OPS since leaving St. Louis in 2011.
Earlier in Friday’s game, Pujols hit a two-run shot to left field off Dodgers starter Andrew Heaney to put the Cardinals up 2-0 in the top of the third inning. The home runs give Pujols 21 on the season.
The Dodgers won 11-0. Pujols finished his historic night 2-for-4, with two home runs producing five RBI.
Before the game, fans gave Pujols a standing ovation after a video tribute to Pujols was played on the two scoreboards in the outfield at Dodger Stadium. “Well, I just want to take this opportunity to thank all the Dodgers fans,” Pujols said when given a chance to address the crowd before the game.
Contributor: Josh Peter in Los Angeles