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Indominus Albert: Angels slugger hits two home runs as Angels beat Astros 4-3

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Albert Pujols was made in a lab to terrorize opposing pitchers.

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Angels 4  Astros 3

Straight off losing two games in a row to Oakland, the Angels came back to Anaheim for a 9 game home stand, beginning with the AL West first place Astros. The Angels started the day at .500, and 5.5 games behind Houston, and in their typical 2015 see-saw of baseball highs and lows. Another game, another day to turn things around.

Hector Santiago was pitching for the Halos today, and did well enough to keep his ERA low(2.71), but still proved susceptible to the big, home run hit. If you’ll remember, he had those issues in his last couple starts against Oakland and Arizona regarding home runs, but otherwise looked great. Today was more of the same, and his one mistake pitch resulted in a third inning home run for Domingo Santana. Barring that one pitch, Hector continued to have good command with his fastball, and finished giving up only two hits in six innings pitched.

Both starters got into high pitch counts early, but it was Astros pitcher Brett Oberholtzer who would get up into the 100’s and get yanked from the game. He pitched a very similar game to Santiago, in not only the pitch count arena, but also the fact that he had one mistake pitch, but it was a big one.

Albert Pujols was the beneficiary of Oberholtzer’s gaffe in the fifth, and he drove a ball deep into center field, up in the rock pile waterfall, for a two-run bomb. It’s Pujols’ 22nd homer of the year now and he’s continuing to be the lone reliable offensive threat on this team day in, day out, in June. The Angels once again got the go ahead runs from Albert "The Machine" Pujols, and a 2-1 score never felt sweeter.

Albert has been unbridled, adrenaline-fueled, high test baseball entertainment this month. You keep thinking that he’ll cool off; or he’ll get into another situation, with the Angels desperately needing runs and you think "he can’t do it AGAIN"...and then he does it again. And tonight, he literally did it again, when he came out in the seventh and hit ANOTHER bomb, this time to left-center, giving the Angels a much-more-comfortable 3-1 lead. Pujols now leads the AL with 23 homers, and has a mind-blowing 15 home runs in the last 24 games. As he crossed home plate on his second bomb of the night, he pointed to the crowd, an acknowledgement that sent them into further frenzy and had them chanting "Al-bert Pu-jols" at the top of their lungs for minutes straight. It was truly a special moment, and with plenty days remaining in this memorable month of June.

A 3-1 lead heading into the eighth, with Joe Smith on the mound, can be a huge moment of confidence in this team and the outcome, but this IS baseball, and the Astros managed to come back late the last time they were in town, and stole a win right out from the Angels. Tonight, there was a glitch in The Matrix and we saw the same thing happen again tonight. Joe Smith, one of the AL leaders in holds, gave up two runs in the eighth, tying the game 3-3 and Huston Street was forced to come in early and go for four outs on the night.

The Angels had blown a two run lead and now went into the eighth, with the bottom of the order coming up in the eighth. Erick Aybar must have figured it was time for some goold ol’ fashioned run manufacturin’, because he lead off the inning with a single, then took second on a wild pitch and finally stole third on an extremely gutsy, but smart move. With one out, Erick Aybar on third, Daniel Robertson came to the plate and laid down a good squeeze attempt that Houston’s Chris Carter botched on the flip home, Aybar was safe and Angels regained the lead, 4-3. It was good to see them figure out a way to score, other than a Pujols HR, and it took some gumption and a little elbow grease from Aybar.

The black cloud over the game was the Angels once again suffering in the RISP category, which of course leads to them counting on an Albert bailout. I will give the bottom guys  some credit for coming through in the eighth, of course...that was pretty neat. The games that the Angels have won lately, due to Pujols heroics, have been such amazing experiences to witness as a fan that you can kind of forget the warts that his slugging seems to cover. Blemishes like the aforementioned RISP troubles, the bullpen gripes(including Joe Smith blowing it in the eighth), the questionable Scioscia lineups and declining outings from some of our starters; they all seem so far away when you’re basking in the #5 longball after glow. But when you’re not sure when the next victory will come, might as well celebrate while you can, bury your head and cross bridges as the Angels come to them.