That leaves the task to the rest of baseball, and they are running out of ways to describe Pujols’ time in the game.
Pujols had two hits and three RBIs on Wednesday and set the major league record for hits by a foreign-born player, leading the Angels to a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I mean, what more can we say? He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game, one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “And he’s going to pass some other names, I’m sure, that are very well-known and have plaques hanging in Cooperstown.”
Pujols had an RBI single in the fourth inning. His 3,167th hit moved him past fellow Dominican Republic native Adrian Beltre (3,166) and into sole possession of 15th place for career hits.
“He just keeps doing what he does,” said Dillon Peters (3-1), who allowed two runs in six innings while striking out six after an erratic start. “Everybody here looks up to him, and it’s just awesome to watch him chase his dream and chase all the milestones he’s already overcome. And there’s going to be more to come.”
Luis Rengifo also drove in two runs for the Angels, who snapped a three-game home losing streak.
Chris Archer (3-9) allowed four runs, three earned, in five innings, and his streak of starts without a win reached 12 games. It is the longest such span in Archer’s eight-year career.
The Angels scored four runs in the fourth inning to erase a two-run deficit. Los Angeles moved in front on Rengifo’s double to left field. The Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds overran the ball when it dropped in, and it bounced all the way to the warning track. Rengifo kept running, rounding third and sliding headfirst into home to give the Angels a two-run lead.
The 39-year-old Pujols drove in Los Angeles’ first run with his record-setting single, helping spark the struggling Angels to their fifth win in the past 18 games. David Fletcher followed with an RBI double that tied the game at 2-all.
“Forget about the record. It’s my job to come here every night and try to help this ball club to win when I can,” Pujols said. “With my defense or with my offense when I get that opportunity, and that’s what I did tonight. It was an effort where everybody contributed.”
After Pittsburgh pulled to 4-3 in the seventh inning, with Diaz scoring from third when Erik Gonzalez hit into a double play, Pujols put the Angels ahead 6-3 with a two-run single in the eighth inning. It was another example of Pujols’ knack for delivering in “prime time,” as Pirates manager Clint Hurdle described it.
“Later on in the game, clutch situations, I’ve seen him be really, really good,” Hurdle said. “And he’s still driving in runs.”
Rengifo drove in Pujols to make it 7-3 before Diaz had an RBI single in the ninth inning for the final margin of victory.
Mike Trout went 0-for-3 with a walk, collecting a stolen base in the fourth inning to become the first American League player with eight straight seasons of at least 25 home runs and 10 stolen bases. Barry Bonds, Darryl Strawberry and Willie Mays also accomplished the feat, with Bonds doing so in 12 consecutive seasons from 1990 to 2001 with Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
Peters looked like he would not last long after the Pirates jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Peters loaded the bases with no outs by issuing a walk and hitting two batters. Josh Bell hit into a double play that scored Kevin Newman, and Cabrera had an RBI single to right that made it 2-0. But Peters was effective after that rough opening. “Just one of those weird starts to a game where I just had no feel after the first batter,” Peters said. “Got out of it and just tried to turn the outing into a positive.”
The Pirates’ last series sweep came June 21-23 against San Diego, and they have not won every game in a road series since May 17-19 at the Padres. They have swept two road series this season, the other when they took two games at Detroit on April 15-16. But Hurdle still treated the series win as a positive. “We haven’t had one since we came out of the break, so it’s a step in the right direction,” Hurdle said.
Angels: RHP Noe Ramirez (viral infection) was recalled from the injured list Wednesday and served the first game of a three-game suspension for hitting Astros OF Jake Marisnick with a pitch on July 16.
Pirates: RHP Joe Musgrove (8-11, 4.71 ERA) will start in the opener of a three-game series against the Cubs at home on Friday. Musgrove is 0-1 in two starts against the Cubs this season but has not allowed an earned run in 9⅓ innings.