Looking Back at Albert Pujols’ First Week with the Angels
Friday April 13th, 2012
Sam Evans: When the most advanced hitter in the history of the game switched teams this past offseason, it shook up the baseball universe. Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals weakened the N.L. Central and made the A.L. West one of the best divisions in baseball. So far Pujols hasn’t gotten off to an amazing start. Still, we’re only a week into the season, so it doesn’t really matter. Let’s take a up-close look at what Pujols has done through his first six games.
First game: In his regular season debut, Albert Pujols was 0 for 3 with a walk. Despite a crowd that was desperately waiting to go crazy after Pujols did something special, Pujols struggled against Royals starter Bruce Chen. In his first at-bat, Pujols lined into a double play. Next, Pujols popped up to Royals third basemen Mike Moustakas. Later, facing the flame throwing Aaron Crow, Pujols struck out on just three pitches.Finally, Greg Holland intentionally walked Pujols in the ninth inning.
Obviously, this wasn’t exactly how Pujols wanted to start his career in Los Angeles. Despite an ecstatic welcome from Angels fans, Pujols struggled at the plate on Opening Day. Nonetheless, Pujols was cheered and the fans went home happy with an Angels win.
Second game: The next day, once again facing the Royals, Pujols got his first hit of the season. In the bottom of the first, Luke Hochevar forced Pujols to ground into a double play. This ended the inning, and quelled the Angels chances of tying the ballgame early on. In his next at-bat, Angels fans got a glimpse of what the Angels organization had spent the big bucks to acquire. Pujols got a hold of a 3-2 fastball and turned it in to a double into left field. Unfortunately, Pujols was thrown at the plate trying to score on a Kendrys Morales single.
Third game: In the final game of the three game series against the Royals, Pujols was dominant. In his first AB against Jonathan Sanchez, Pujols drove in Howie Kendrick with a groundout to third base. His next at-bat, Pujols drew a clutch walk to load the bases for Torii Hunter. Two innings later, Pujols got his first hit of the night on a solid single to left field.
Later in the game, Pujols tallied his second hit, a double off Kelvin Herrera to deep left field. A couple of pitches later, Pujols advanced to third on a balk. Personally, if I knew that one of the best hitters of all-time was on second base behind me, I’d probably get so excited that I would balk too. Kelvin Herrera if there was ever time to balk, it was then. In his last at-bat, Angels fans witnessed Pujols draw yet another walk.
Fourth game: As the Angels headed to Minnesota to face the Twins, they were coming off of a disappointing loss to the Royals. In the first game of the series against the Twins, the Angels got a confidence boost with their 5-1 win. Pujols, apparently mystified by Twins pitchers Nick Blackburn and Glen Perkins, had a minimal effect in their win. He went 0 for 4 with three groundouts.
Fifth game: In the Angels second game against the Twins, the Halos bullpen blew the game and the Twins escaped with a 6-5 win. Pujols went 1 for 4, but he did have a clutch RBI single in the fourth inning.
Pujols first at-bat against the Twins ace Carl Pavano was as uninteresting as Carl Pavano would be without facial hair. Pujols grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning. In Pujols second at-bat, he saw a total of seven pitches, and on the seventh pitch, he lined a single into left field scoring Howie Kendrick. In Pujols next two at-bats, he flied out and struck out.
Sixth game: On Thursday, the Twins beat the Angels by a score of 10-9. Pujols was 1 for 5, lowering his average to .217 on the season. This was an ugly game for the Angels, which they need to put behind them and look forward to the next one.
Pujols has been neither impressive nor terrible in his first week in Anaheim. Every game does matter, but it’s only a week into the season and there are still plenty of games left. If I had to make a prediction, I would say Pujols will hit his first homer of the season in this upcoming week. I’m sure his adjustment to American League pitching will go just fine. By the end of the year, Pujols will be leading the Angels back to the playoffs with his offensive performances. As the man said himself…Pujols does know a thing or two about hitting.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
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Posted on April 13, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged albert pujols, anaheim angels, angels, carl pavano, first baseman, howie kendrick, jonathan sanchez, kelvin herrera, luke hochevar, nick blackburn, Torii Hunter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.