The Los Angeles Dodgers put on a power display in their 7-2 win against the St. Louis Cardinals, receiving home runs from Albert Pujols, Justin Turner and Will Smith.
Pujols got the start at first base in what marked his second return to Busch Stadium since leaving the Cardinals for the L.A. Angels at the end of the 2011 season.
Pujols’ first trip back in 2019 featured multiple standing ovations along with cheers after hitting a home run. A similar result played out on Tuesday as he homered off J.A. Happ to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
“It’s always pretty special,” Pujols said of the cheers he received following the blast. “Any time you come here to St. Louis, with the history I have playing here and the fans, it was really a great moment once again.
“To be able to deliver like that in the first at-bat was huge. Especially when we have our bullpen going, we want to make sure we score some runs early so they can have a little cushion.”
While Pujols appreciated the ovation he got from Cardinals fans, he hasn’t yet been able to soak in the moment. “Not really,” Pujols answered when asked if he realized what was happening while rounding the bases.
“It’s hard because trust me, you think about things, but when it happens you just let it happen. It’s part of the game. At the end of the day my goal is to do my job, go out there and play defense, embrace the moment but try not to get too caught up in what’s happening.
“That’s something that I love to do since Day 1 when I came up to the big leagues. I think it’s something that probably next week I’m going to think about it more.
“That’s how it happened in 2019 when I hit my home run, it was like a week later. Seeing my highlights and video, I was able to embrace it and enjoy it more than when it happened in the moment. I’m sure that’s how I’m going to take this one also.”
Despite having already returned to Busch Stadium as a visiting player, Pujols couldn’t help but get emotional being back at the ballpark. “I don’t think it was easy. I still got a little emotional, but you have to control that,” he said.
“You can’t erase 11 years, knowing what I’ve done for this city, what this city meant to me, and teh fans. It’s something that’s pretty special. You definitely get a little emotional but I was able to control it. I don’t like to think what’s ahead of me. I just let things happen.
“If I get emotional, I do. And if I don’t, I just embrace it how it is. Obviously it’s always special, but we’ve still got a couple more games here left. I’m going to try to enjoy those games and next week when I’m at home, embrace it a little bit more.
“It would be easy for me to think about it after I leave than when I’m here in the city.”
Roberts: Pujols home run had ‘storybook’ feel
When asked to describe his reaction to Pujols’ home run, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts compared it to something out of a script. “Storybook. It’s one of those things that you hope could happen, but the likelihood is very improbable,” Roberts said.
“So for it to play out like that, getting a standing ovation and then hitting a homer in the first at-bat, storybook. I’m a big believer that the game honors you. The way Albert has played the game for so long, the right way, that’s the way it was supposed to work out.”
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