Albert Pujols hits 700th home run and joins MLB’s exclusive club

LOS ANGELES (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th home run of his career on Friday night, hitting his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the fourth player to set the milestone in history of the major leagues.

The 42-year-old Pujols batted the number 699 in the third inning and then started the number 700 at Dodger Stadium in the fourth inning.

Driving into the closing days of his final big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 home runs), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It was a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home game since early August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals and his 21st this season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers relief Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the front rows of the pavilion at left field, the same spot where his two-barrel shot touched left-hander Andrew Heaney’s previous inning.

Pujols received a long standing ovation from the crowd – he ended last season playing for the Dodgers. He picked up a curtain and lifted his cap in confirmation.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat on their feet, expecting to see history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez in fourth on the list when he hit the career No. 697 homer against Pittsburgh in September. 11.

Hitting 700 homers seemed like a long way off for Pujols as he hit .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started finding his punch in August, hitting seven homers in a 10-game stretch, which helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year… I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after scoring in the 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I hit the ball hard. Sometimes this game takes away more than it gives back.

“I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. It’s something I’ve been doing all along.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March on a one-year, $2.5 million contract. It’s his highest total since hitting 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

After the end of the season he wants to retire.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He hit a career high in 2006 with 49 homers — one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and led the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free hands in December 2011 and signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021 and then joined the Dodgers, hitting 12 homers and 38 runs in 85 games.