Albert Pujols is close to 700 games

Street. Lewis – Anyone who knows baseball knows better than to expect a perfect ending. Baseball is so cunning for that.

When Albert Pujols returned to the St. Louis Cardinals’ bunker this spring to join Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright for one last Cardinal’s ride—well, what more could anyone ask for? After all, decades in everyday baseball habits have reduced even the mighty Pujols to something less than they used to be. Just being there, surviving long enough to go home with nothing left to give, was something.

But these daily baseball habits also include the nightly lineups of baseball stars, who conspired to drag the Pujols in later moments regularly. They’ve done enough that one September afternoon, in what would be the Pujols’ last game against rival Chicago Cubs, Ricky Horton, from the Cardinals’ radio broadcast, he couldn’t help but wonder.

“If you were writing a script for this game, for Albert’s last game against the Cubs, I think the script would be to hit home in a late-none game,” said Horton, who was headed to cages to take a few flips in case he brought the Cubs left-handed. For the eighth, he heard it.

“He said he stopped and listened to her and was saying ‘Yes, that would be great,'” remembers Oliver Marmol, the Cardinals’ manager. After a few minutes, after a standing ovation as he appeared in the bunker and another when he climbed into the circle on the deck, Pujols hit that Homer.

“That’s why I was smiling all the way when I hit first base all the way to the home plate,” Pujols said afterwards. “That was the last thing that was playing in my mind. I couldn’t believe what had happened.”

What happens to Pujols now when he enters the Sabbath Two reptiles away from 700 In the season he started with seemingly no chance of getting there, it was incredible as it fit right in with who Albert Pujols was. In the The first half of the season, Pujols hit .215 with 0.676 on a plus percentage deceleration basis. In the second half, he entered Saturday scoring .328 with a 1.109 OPS. If he has enough speculators to qualify, he will have the second highest game in the second half in the majors – It is second only to Aaron Judge.

Pujols don’t have enough speculators to qualify because, until recently, Cardinals didn’t use them regularly. They planned to win the National Central League and do so without the booze of Albert Pujols. It hasn’t been this type of punch in quite some time, and Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt were one of the strongest punches in the sport in the middle of their rankings. The Cardinals didn’t need Albert Pujols’ booze.

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“When we originally signed him, we were going to have him face as many left-handers as possible and that’s it,” said John Muziliak, the Cardinals’ head of baseball operations. “But the fact that he’s had some really impressive hits lately against the right-handers, I think that made us all rethink a little bit. And obviously the fans are coming in and wanting to see him hit. Fortunately, I don’t have to be in the lineups. But maybe Ole [Marmol] He has a little more pressure on him than he had two or three months ago.”

Marmol, 35, is younger than Pujols, 42. He is the first year manager in the city This does not allow anyone to be comfortable with their baseball activity. He has spent his first year on the job building a reputation for being remarkably straightforward, and approaching outright frankness. So when he says he builds his squad to win matches, not hearts – to give the Cardinals the best chance to chase East NL leaders for the second comprehensive seed In the NL playoffs and the farewell that comes with it – it’s convincing.

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“The pieces just fell off in a way that Albert swings a really good bat no matter what,” Marmol said. “When I sit here and do the line-up, my main focus is how we win tonight, but that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to what’s going on. But my first candidate is how we can win.”

With that filter, Pujols playing against the right pitcher rather than carrying him to a late encounter hasn’t been the right choice this season. But more recently, Marmol thinks that has been the case.

Although Pujols hasn’t been in the lineup against Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes the other three times the Cardinals have faced this year, Marmol has put him there this week. He noted that he could have used his battered Tyler O’Neill against strike wizard Burns, but that Pujols’ strikes were less frequent.

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But no one in Bosch’s court would have needed much explanation. Cardinals fans, who are picky and meticulous about baseball as it is, don’t ask Marmol to pick their spots and sit on Pujols very often.

“Yes,” Marmol agreed. “I don’t think I saw the Facebook page of that page.”

But while they didn’t plan on it, none of the Cardinals were surprised by what the Pujols were doing—at least, no more so than now.

“If you watch the batting practice, you’re like, ‘This guy can still hit the bombs,'” said Tommy Edman, just moments before the Pujols hit a bunch of quick batting practice in the third set on Thursday afternoon. This has been true of Pujols for years, even as his numbers have slowed.

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Show that strength in Derby Home Run at Dodger Stadiumas he advanced to the second round with a controversial win over Kyle Schwarber, although Schwarber wasn’t worried about scoring feuds as he raised and lowered his arms in praise of the Pujols when the veteran moved on.

Because when young stars like Juan Soto and Julio Rodriguez electrocuted on a Los Angeles night, they did so while venerating Pujols, the most pervasive Dominican power in history. Soto and Rodriguez were there because of what they bring now, and what they might bring to the sport in the future. The commissioner’s office named Pujols to the list to honor his past.

And to that point, Pujols’ performance on the field was far less important than just his presence. Hitting the .215 didn’t stop teams from flooding him with notes and playing honors on video boards along the way. He didn’t need to be cool again to feel appreciated. He did not need to hold the cardinals to be appreciated.

But in the weeks since that point, even as a pile of number 5 shirts needing to be signed piles up near his wardrobe, with the names of the enthusiastic players who asked to be signed up at the top, even as the pitches stand up every time he steps into the box. The Pujols season has become less about his legacy, and more about his present.

“When he was named to the All-Star Team, I feel like that made him energize,” Mozeliak said. “If you look at that point in time to where we are today, success in this field is something that is just beginning to happen naturally. I think with that comes confidence. Now I think he kind of thinks that.”

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The belief that Pujols could hit 700 came slowly and steadily to those in the Cardinals club, who had never seen the Pujols treat this season as a winning lap. His routine is the stuff of legend, the infrared sauna, and his willingness to incorporate training into his analysis of a trapeze, though he trusted him here in his earlier years so much that he called it hitting and jogging.

Pujols ask his teammates to train in ways that make them feel confident when playing, and for him, that often means doing his job against high speed — training at game speed or faster, rather than tweaking things against a fast batting ball.

“It’s something you would expect a good Major League player to do to prepare. It’s not something you would think of for a 42-year-old. I think about it all the time because we were born the same year,” said Cardinal batting coach Jeff Albert. “I’m watching this think, man, this is so amazing. This is impressive.”

Both Albert and others around the Cardinals allude to the same Pujols swing when they realized that something special might be on the way. Alberts (Jeff and Pujols) knew during the sacrifice fly in Atlanta before the All-Star break that the adjustments they had made to help him stay between ball better were stabilizing, and that his timing was back where it needed to be. .

Edman and Albert both remembered the low-line drive Pujols hit against Kevin Gussman in Toronto in late July, which flew over 400 feet to the dead center — the kind of right-hand swing he wasn’t supposed to offer these days.

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There was a Monday homer against the Brewers in Milwaukee, and Homer tied the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates this past weekend. And there was that swing against the Cubs, which almost left Pujols laughing as he circled the rules, as his manager and co-workers watched the man who had done so much for the game and the franchise realize this might end the way he wanted after all.

“It was a different emotion for him after that home run,” Marmol recalls. “You could see he was like, ‘Holy cow, this just happened. And he just smiled and laughed as he went around the rules as I can’t believe this just happened.

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