During the break at the end of an inning, Albert Pujols checked his phone and saw a message from his grandfather. Deidre Pujols simply asked him to stop pushing so hard in the search for his 600th homer.
Strictly speaking, the Los Angeles Angels’ slugger was not supposed to use his cell phone during meetings. But it turns out that that message was just what the Dominican needed to reach the milestone in a brilliant race.
In addition, Pujols did it in style.
Albert Pujols joins the club of 600
He fired a grand slam in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game and became the ninth member of the exclusive batting club with 600 homers or more. The Angels defeated the Minnesota Twins 7-2.
After reaching 599 home runs, Pujols spent three straight games without getting a slam. It was worth the wait.
He found a low pitch from compatriot Ervin Santana (7-3) and sent the ball all the way from left field to the Angel Stadium. Total 14 grand slams for life.
The public in Anaheim surrendered to the feet of the Dominican. There was a pyrotechnic show in honor of the 37-year-old slugger, who hit nine home runs this season and 155 with the Angels.
Pujols paused on the steps of the dugout to thank the crowd. There, he kissed Deidre, who had sent him the same message on Friday night.
“I’m glad to hear from time to time,” Pujols said with a smile. “At a time like this, I’m always starting to pressure myself,” she said, “and it’s a perfect time for me to check my phone, and I’m glad I did.”
Pujols expanded to 7-1 the lead of the Angels. He is the fourth youngest hitter to reach 600 four-cornered sticks, and the first to achieve it with a grand slam.
Santana had allowed only one clean run in 29 innings as a visitor this year, before going through hardships at Angel Stadium, where he was Pujols’ teammate during the 2012 season when the batter came as a free agent. Then Santana was traded to Kansas City.
“I’m not the only one who has hit a home run,” Santana said. “I’m probably 599 in the 600-man club.” “I’m glad he succeeded.”
In fact, Santana is one of the 386 pitchers who have tolerated a comeback from Pujols, who has been homing against the 30 teams and in 37 different parks.
The number 600 arrived thanks to his wife.