April 21-27: Albert Pujols Hits Milestone, Relievers Blow Three Leads


Apr 22, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) celebrates with teammates at home plate after hitting his 500th career home run in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 11-13, 3rd in AL West (2-1 at Nationals, 1-2 at Yankees last week)

Highlights: One of the lures of bringing Albert Pujols to Anaheim was that career milestones would be hit in an Angels uniform. Last Wednesday, he reached the first.

Pujols became the first player in major league history to hit his 499th and 500th home runs in a single game. Both were off Taylor Jordan; a three-run homer in the first and a two-run shot to center field in the fifth, making the young National the answer to future trivia question. Pujols is the 26th member to reach the 500 mark and trails Eddie Murray for 25th all-time.

Lowlights: The Angels went from the highest of highest of highs to the lowest of lows one night after one of the greatest feats in franchise history. Leading the Nationals 4-1 entering the ninth, Ernesto Frieri allowed four earned runs and blew his second save in just one-third of an inning.

After giving up a leadoff home run, Denard Span singled and Anthony Rendon walked. Still, Mike Scioscia stayed with Frieri. Jayson Werth doubled to the left-center field gap, tying the game while ending Frieri’s night. Scioscia demoted Frieri from closer duties following the game.

Player of the week: In what has been his best stretch since leaving St. Louis, Pujols’ slash line over the last week is .320/.370/.720. His three home runs bring the season total to nine, trailing White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu by one for the league lead.

It’s not just that Pujols is seeing the ball better, he’s also running with ease; last Monday he stole a base for the first time since last summer. The glove work that earned him two Gold Gloves was apparent throughout the road trip as well. Sunday he nearly robbed Carlos Beltran of a single but Garrett Richards’ could field the toss cleanly.

Injury report: Raul Ibanez, who was sidelined most of the Yankees’ series, is listed as day-to-day due to an illness. He struck out in a game-ending pinch-hit appearance last night.

Josh Hamilton is still a few weeks away from any in-game action. A cast still protects his left thumb, but will be able to take it off in a week or two.

Kole Calhoun is rehabbing in Arizona, but still wears a walking boot for an ankle injury suffered. He’s on track to come back in 4-6 weeks.

Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett continue to recover from differing arm injuries. Burnett hasn’t pitches since undergoing elbow surgery last summer while De La Rosa threw one inning this year before re-aggravating a right forearm strain.

Up next:  This will be a crucial nine-game home stand for the Halos. Starting with the Cleveland Indians, three playoff teams invaded “the Big A” over the next week and a half. Texas comes to town over the weekend for the teams’ first meeting of the season.