Angels — Albert Pujols He sneaked back across home plate to double-high-five Adrian Beltre, his longtime rival, compatriot and loyal friend. He folded his arms Yadier MolinaHugs Adam Wainwright.saluted the rest of his St. Louis Cardinals teammates, tipped his hat to the Dodger Stadium crowd — and then needed to be alone.

He descends the dug-out staircase and enters an empty corridor, and in that moment, the famous man is hailed as “The Machine”.

“I got emotional,” Pujols said in Spanish.

On Friday night, Pujols finally hit the milestone of 700 home runs with a stunning two-homer performance. But it was more than that. This happened in LA, which means his five kids can testify. It happened in this place, Dodger Stadium, the ballparks that “gave me life” and kept him moving forward.

“What a special night,” Pujols said from the interview room with his children standing behind him.

Pujols got a two-strike fastball up the middle from the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Andrew Heaney He lined up for No. 699 in the third inning and a 434-foot rocket to left-center field.

In the fourth, he got a hanging slider from the righty Phil Bickford And in going 11-0, he hit 389 feet to become the fourth member of the esteemed 700 home run club, joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.

Pujols, 42, is the only one of the four to hit numbers 699 and 700 on the same night. He has 2,208 RBIs for his career, second only to Aaron’s 2,297. He reached 1,400 extra-base hits, surpassed only by Aaron and Bonds.

“It’s very special,” Pujols said. “It really hurts when I’m done, at the end of the season, it’s time to retire, and maybe one or two times after that I’ll see the numbers.

“Look, don’t get me wrong, I know my place in this game. But from Day 1 when I played my first score, it was never about numbers, it was never about chasing numbers. It was always about winning championships. And I’m just trying to get better at this game. And a lot of people who taught me the right way early in my career. I had and that’s how I carried myself for 22 years, that’s why I made it to the big leagues. Don’t really focus on the numbers, I will one day, but not now.

Pujols joined the Dodgers last May shortly after being released from the Los Angeles Angels and has rebounded as a part-time starter and late-game pinch-hitter. He was effective against left-handers, and he was a big influence in a veteran-laden clubhouse he affectionately referred to as “Theo Albert.”

But the Dodgers may be giving him more than he got in return. Playing in a playoff atmosphere on such a talented team has given him an energy that he often lacked during most of his decade with the Angels.

Hours before the Dodgers played a video montage in his honor at batting practice Friday, Pujols told Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman that he might not be back in 2022 if they didn’t sign him last year.

“It’s humbling,” Roberts said. “When I talked to him sometime last year, I know he talked about the fact that we got the joy back, the fact that he’s a Dodger.”

Pujols’ final season saw him play some of his best baseball. His second-half OPS, 1.076, is second only to him. Aaron JudgeAnd his surgery coincided with the Cardinals fleeing the rest of the National League Central.

Pujols is hitting .265/.338/.530 ​​for the season. His 21 home runs give him 18 career 20-homer seasons, third all-time behind only Aaron (20) and Bonds (19). Only he and Ted Williams hit at least 20 home runs in both their first and last seasons. He hit his fourth multi-homer game since turning 42 on Friday, the most in major league history.

The historic baseball fan was reluctant to give up the memorabilia trade — at least at first — but Pujols didn’t mind.

“The memorabilia is for the fans,” Pujols said. “If you want to keep it, you can. At the end of the day, I’m not focused on the material things. The bat, the uniform, the helmet, I think I have things that are special to me. Day, I think that’s what the fans come here for — to have a special moment of history. So if you want to keep that baseball on this I have no problem.

Pujols had a knack for hitting milestone home runs in emphatic fashion. Number 500 came the same night as 499. Number 600 was great. Number 700 came after 699 innings.

The night ended with a postgame clubhouse celebration that saw Pujols squeeze into a laundry cart for a beer.

“Imagine jumping out there,” Pujols said. “I struggled to get out.”

Pujols then thanked his teammates and told them how special it was to be able to get to this point in a Cardinals uniform, with his kids and the Dodgers on the other side.

“It’s amazing how God works,” Pujols said. “This could have happened last week in St. Louis, which would have been awesome. But to let it happen tonight, to have my family, friends and people who care and love me the most — it’s special to me.”

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