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 his St. Louis dugout this spring to join Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright on one last round of Cardinals—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 will be the Pujols’ last game against Chicago Cubs rival, Ricky Horton, of the Cardinals broadcast team, 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, ‘Yeah, 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 second-half level in major operations – behind him Just 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 old Pujols. It hasn’t been this kind of punch in quite some time, and Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have put together one of the strongest punches in the sport in their mid-ranking. The Cardinals didn’t need vintage Pujols.

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“When we originally signed him, we were going to get him to take as many hits as we could 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, that made us all rethink a little bit. And obviously the fans are coming in and wanting to see him hit. Luckily, I don’t have to be in the lineups. But maybe [Marmol] He has a little more pressure on him than he had two or three months ago.”

Marmol, 36, 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 of chasing NL East Leaders for Ranked #2 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, as picky and as accurate at baseball as they are, don’t ask Marmol to pick their spots and Pujols sit more often.

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

But while they didn’t plan it, no one around the cardinals was surprised by what the Pujols are doing—at least, no more than he is now.

If you watch the batting practice, you’re like, ‘This guy can still hit bombs,’ said Tommy Edman just moments before the Pujols hit a bunch of quick-hitting practice in the third set on Thursday afternoon. slowing down its numbers.

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Show that strength in Derby Home Run at Dodger Stadiumwhere 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 as the veteran progressed.

When young stars like Juan Soto and Julio Rodriguez electrocuted on a Los Angeles night, they did so while paying homage to Pujols, the most prolific Dominican force 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 when 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 fans 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 the Pujols could hit 700 came slowly and steadily to those at the Cardinals club, who didn’t see the Pujols this season as a winning lap. His routines are legendary things: the infrared sauna, his desire to incorporate training into his analysis of a trapeze, though he trusted him here in his earlier years so much that he described his own strokes.

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 watch this thinking: ‘Man, this is so amazing. This is impressive. “

Albert and others around the Cardinals point to the same few Bogols swinging 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 he needed to. .

Edman and Albert both recalled the low-line engine Pujols hit against Kevin Gussman in Toronto in late July, an engine that flew more than 400 feet to dead center — the kind of right-hand swing he wasn’t supposed to offer these days.

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There was a two day homer against the Brewers in Milwaukee and Homer’s tie against the Pittsburgh Pirates last weekend. And there was this swinging against the Cubs, which left Pujols almost laughing as he circled the rules, while his manager and co-workers watched the man who had done so much for the game and the franchise realized this might end the way he wanted it 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 smiled and laughed as he circled the rules like, “I can’t believe this just happened.”

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