Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

By MJ Lloyd

One. Hundred. And. Ten. Albert Pujols went 110 Angels at bats without hitting a home run. The longest such streak of his career had Angels fans wondering if the slugger’s power source was left under the Arch in St. Louis like a leprechaun’s pot of gold. The .196/.237/.295 slash line isn’t ideal but for one day everybody could pat Albert on the back. Or at least they would if they were around…

After Pujols’ much anticipated home run of the season in the fifth inning Sunday, he was greeted by an empty dugout. If you think that smells like Torii Hunter‘s cooking, you’d be correct. As always, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez had the money quote…

"At the urging of Torii Hunter, all of his Angels teammates had rushed into the tunnel as the iconic first baseman rounded the bases amid a standing ovation at Angel Stadium, making sure he saw an empty bench before they all jumped out to congratulate him seconds later.“That means you did something good,” Pujols said after the game. “So it’s awesome.”“It was just spur of the moment,” Hunter said. “They were like, ‘Solitude, solitude.’ I was like, ‘No, let’s go in the tunnel, get off the bench, so he can’t see anybody!’ When I have a day off, man, I do stupid stuff.”"

Hunter still plays the game like a 12-year-old, he loves it. He did get in the game to strikeout pinch-hitting. But he gets a pass for the dugout prank plus he’s raking .294/.363/.451 this year (four home runs and .303/.378/.667 since hitting his first homer on 4/27). Unfortunately for Angels fans, he’ll do so somewhere else next year unless he re-signs with the Halos and plays for free, like a 12-year-old. Pujols, on the other hand, is going to an Angel for quite some time.

Pujols hit seven home runs in March 31/April in 2011 but only posted a .245/.305/.453 line. He would eventually catch fire and put up top five MVP numbers (8 home runs, .317/.419/.778 in 17 June games). With the first homer pressure off now, will Pujols return to Pujolsian form? Angels fans can only hope. And I tend to give all-time greats a longer leash.