Fans were in for a treat tonight at Busch Stadium, as future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols pitched for the first time in his career. Pujols was one of a handful of Cardinals legends taking the field tonight, as both Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina started the game as well. Pujols performed about as well as position players usually do on the mound, but nevertheless everyone involved was having a ball.
The 42-year-old Pujols has achieved just about everything possible on a baseball diamond. Over his 22 big league seasons Pujols has earned three MVP Awards, 10 All-Star selections, six Silver Slugger Awards, two Gold Gloves and two World Series rings, among a bevy of other trophies. Additionally, he’s reached a plethora of milestones, and continues to climb the leaderboards as he closes in on 700 home runs and 100 career Wins Above Replacement. Suffice it to say, Pujols is one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
Despite all of the success Albert Pujols has had, he still had yet to make his mark in one area: the pitcher’s mound. That changed tonight when Cardinals’ manager Oliver Marmol allowed Pujols to pitch the top of the ninth in a blowout 15-6 win over the Giants. It was all smiles from the Cardinals’ designated hitter, as he was throwing pitches well under 50 miles per hour, and arcing balls that mirrored the Gateway Arch.
Giants skipper Gabe Kapler inserted his own position player to pitch in the bottom of the seventh in the form of outfielder Luis González. González managed to close out the frame and make his way through the eighth as well. Interestingly enough, when Pujols pitched he surrendered a three-run dinger to González who had entered the game as a pitcher, making González technically the only non-Shohei Ohtani pitcher to hit a home run this year.
Tonight’s game was a reminder of all that makes baseball fun. Towering home runs flying through the night sky. Players being silly and enjoying themselves. Legends going out on their own terms. It’s unlikely Pujols pitches again before he retires at season’s end. Whether or not he reaches any more milestones one thing is for sure: Albert Pujols is finishing his career the way he wants to, and the game of baseball is better because of it.