Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia embraces Albert Pujols (5) after Pujols hit a single off Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Mike Leake (8) for his 3,000th career hit, in the fifth inning of a baseball game Friday, Ma.
On Friday, though, Pujols stood alone, on first base and atop a career at its loftiest height yet. His teammates all greeted him on the field before action resumed.
The 38-year-old Pujols almost got the mark in the first inning, but his hard liner was right at shortstop Jean Segura.
Andrelton Simmons singled to drive in Pujols in the fourth inning, and Shohei Ohtani later scored to make the score 2-0.
He's also one of only six players to reach the career milestones of 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez.
The most recent player before Pujols to join the 3,000 hit club was Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who reached the milestone hit on July 30, 2017. With Suzuki stepping away this week for the remainder of the 2018 season, Beltre is the only active player with more hits than Pujols. Even the two-run single Pujols later added for career hit No. 3,001. Hit #3,001 moves Pujols past Roberto Clemente into 31st place on the Major League Baseball all-time hit list. He showed what they missed out on with two hits, including a two-out RBI double after Pujols' 3,000th hit, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead.
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Albert Pujols was once an obscure 13th-round draft pick out of Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City, Missouri, who nearly didn't sign a professional contract.
And it may be a while before another player joins the club.
He recalled the occasion being "a weird moment" because 3,000 hits represents such a profound climb every baseball player can appreciate.
Albert Pujols could've retired 10 years ago and been a Hall of Fame lock. That's not unusual for members of the 3,000-hit club, but he's avoided that while hitting for power and playing in the highest-strikeout era in major league history. That pact, which he signed after pledging for years that it "wasn't about the money" and after he and his wife complained that he was "insulted" by a lucrative offer from the Cardinals to keep him here for the rest of his career, would prevent Pujols from associating with the team where he made his name for two decades.
A three-time NL MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols joined the Angels in 2012.
The game was delayed just long enough for the accomplishment to be marked, and then the Angels returned to winning their fourth straight game, moving percentage points ahead of Houston for first place in the American League West and running their road record to a baseball-best 12-2.