Deep down in the annals of Angels lore, there is a phrase; a phrase that goes "When the champs come to town, they get a beatdown", and it's in reference to the current World Series champion playing in Anaheim. Also, that's not really a phrase from Angels lore...I made that part up, but it SHOULD be, right? I mean, they beat up on the Royals tonight, on the burly arms and shredded back of Albert "La Maquina" Pujols, so the logic stands. Tonight, everything went right, and the Angels looked like a legit baseball team. Huh.
Perhaps Albert Pujols has learned a trick or two from Jered Weaver. With a lot of skepticism and doubt on Weaver coming from Spring Training into the regular season, he responded in the most perfect way possible: going out on the field and straight up destroying. Weaver was vocal about feeding off the negativity, and we all know Pujols has had plenty swirling about him recently. I think he found a way to harness that and set out to shut a lot of people up...well, mission accomplished!
Pujols was an absolute monster this evening, hitting two home runs off of Royals starter Ian Kennedy, both solo shots. They came in third and fifth, and gave the Angels some much needed cushion in a game that could get close at any point. Oh, before the Angels even got to the long ball party, hosted by El Hombre, the Angels already had a couple runs on the board, and they got them in the most Angels way possible.
In the first inning, Ian Kennedy hit Yunel Escobar, then gave up an infield single to Rafael Ortega, followed by Mike Trout drawing a walk. That's great, but it gets better. A wild pitch to the backstop from Kennedy and a runner scores, Kole Calhoun drives one in via groundout, and then, finally, they got a run via an actual hit! Andrelton Simmons got a solid knock to right field, giving the Halos an early 3-0 lead.
So with those two easy runs on the board, Albert Pujols decided to let off a bunch of fireworks. That led to his two monster homers. Meanwhile, Garrett Richards was a maestro on the mound; the fastballs were flowing 96-97 and they were too tempting to lay off of for the normally-patient Royals. He allowed just one run, a Salvador Perez RBI single, in his 6.2 IP while allowing three hits, five walks and five strikeouts. All in all, great night for G-Rich.
Mike Trout looks up to Pujols like an older brother, and you know how younger bros are always trying to be like big bro? Well, Trout had a little case of that this evening, as he obviously got the idea to hit his own solo homer in the seventh from seeing Albert go deep. Poser(in a good, good way)! With that, the Angels were sitting pretty on a 6-1 lead, late in the game, against a new-found rival. Interesting baseball on this cool April evening.
The bullpen would hold, the Angels would beat the evil World Champions, and doing my baseball math, that means the Angels are now one of the best teams in the AL. Okay, maybe not. But they had a well played game against a good team, and they got a super star performance out of Albert Pujols. Aces all around, this is good baseball.
Albert Pujols gave us a thrill tonight, and that never gets old. Albert DOES get old, however, and we comment on that quite often. But when he gives us games like this, we see the legend, right in front of our very eyes...he's back(until he's gone again). He now passed Reggie Jackson on the all time homer list, Rafael Palmeiro is next. Maybe this kickstarts elder statesman Pujols, maybe not. All I know is that it was fun to watch.