Has the Machine run out of steam? Albert Pujols is fading in August

By Ryan Whitehead

A few months ago, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols was pounding home run after home run, and even earned a spot in the home run derby. Now, here in August, Pujols is only batting just .215 with runners in scoring position. Pujols’s career average in these situations is .328.   Angels fans were once talking about what was called the Albert Pujols Renaissance, a description of his emergence throughout the season,  but now the talk is how he comes up short when it comes to bringing runners home. In order for the Angels to catch Houston down the stretch they need The Machine to return to form.

What seems like as some kind of kryptonite, most fans see this as a serious issue as the Angels have now lost their eighth straight on the road, a feat that hasn’t been done since 1992. Many opportunities came up for Pujols in last nights game against the Chicago White Sox. In the eighth inning, the White Sox bullpen came in for relief. The Angels took advantage and got a single, a walk, and reached on an error. However, Pujols would end up grounding into an inning-ending double play.

“I don’t think of that stuff,” Pujols told Orange County Register, “You can easily go on a tear and forget about what happened the last three months. I don’t think about that. I don’t think that’s a question you should ask anybody. This is part of the game. You think I want to get myself out? I want to come through every time. It doesn’t happen.”

Manager Mike Scioscia also had this to say about Pujols numbers, “I think early on, he was hitting the ball better than some of his numbers showed. As the season has gone, I think he’s done better in those situations. There aren’t that many guys we want out there in those situations on our team outside Albert, even though some of the raw numbers aren’t as good as they have been in the past. He’s gotten some big hits for us.”

The offensive problems have been a team wide issue. Besides Pujols, the offense in general has had only one multi-hit innings in the past 23 innings. In last nights affair, they went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. In the last 18 games, the Angels have been shutout five times. The good news coming out of this is that the Angels are still in the pennant race, only trailing the Houston Astros by 1 1/2 games going into tonight’s game.