Albert Pujols blasts historic home run in Wrigley return originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
If this is Albert Pujols' last Wrigley Field series of a Hall of Fame career, he's leaving a mark on his way out.
On Monday night, he left that mark in the left-field bleachers when he belted his 693rd career home run, leading off the seventh, for the difference in a 1-0 Cardinals victory over the Cubs in the opener of a five-game series — off a Drew Smyly pitch that was well out of the top of the strike zone.
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"He's The Machine for a reason," Smyly said. "He's back."
Pujols, 42, has seven home runs in the past two weeks as he tries to join Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in the 700 club before the end of what is expected to be his final season. He is fifth on the all-time home run list, also trailing Alex Rodriguez (696).
The lefty Smyly became the 449th pitcher to allow a home run to Pujols, who tied Bonds for that major-league record for victimized pitchers.
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Not that the 448 other victims provide any solace.
"It's a tough way to lose because I executed the pitch I wanted," Smyly said of what was a change-his-eye-level offering he expected to be a chase pitch if Pujols swung.
"But he's Albert Pujols. He's the GOAT. He's one of the greatest of all-time. And he finally got me."
Pujols was 3-for-14 in his career, including a first-inning single off the left-field wall Monday, against Smyly in his career before the seventh.
The homer was Pujols' 30th at Wrigley and 58th against the Cubs.
He received a loud mix of cheers and boos from the crowd of just under 30,000 when he came to the plate in the first inning, and another, louder mix for the at-bat after the homer, including a sizable segment of the crowd standing (and a few "Let's Go Albert" chants from the red-clad portion of the crowd).