More grand history for Albert Pujols and more misery for the Rockies.
That was the headline from Sunday afternoon’s game at Coors Field where the Los Angeles Angels rallied to beat the sliding Rockies, 5-3, riding Pujols’ milestone two-run home run off Carlos Estevez in the eighth inning.
It was the 660th home run of Pujols’ career, moving him into a tie with the immortal Willie Mays for fifth place in big-league history.
Although the Angels had only six hits, Rockies pitchers walked 10 and hit a batter, and that combustible mixture eventually blew up in their faces. Anthony Rendon drew a walk from Estevez to lead off the eighth and them Pujols hammered Estevez’s 1-1 fastball to deep left to give the Angels a 4-3 lead. The Angels won two of three games in the series while the Rockies’ are watching their playoff chances slowly fade. They dropped to 21-25, four games under .500 with 14 games left in the 60-game season.
It’s hard to imagine now, but the Rockies opened the season 11-3. Since them, however, they are 10-22 (.313), the worst winning percentage in the majors over that span.
It wasn’t just poor pitching that doomed Colorado Sunday.
Lack of key hits at key times — the same old bugaboo that’s haunted them most of the season — bit them again in the sixth inning when they had a chance to extend their lead. With singles by Kevin Pillar and Charlie Blackmon, the Rockies had runners at the corners and nobody out. But Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney fanned Matt Kemp and Josh Fuentes, and Garrett Hampson flew out deep to right.
It’s tempting to stay that Colorado starter Ryan Castellani was effectively wild, but that would be a stretch. Yes, he gave up just one unearned run on one hit over 5 2/3 innings, but he also walked six and hit a batter. A big hit here or there by the Angels would have ruined Castellani’s day, but the hit never came, and so he persevered and departed the game with the Rockies leading 3-1.
Colorado got on the scoreboard in the second on a leadoff homer to left by Kemp, his sixth.
The Rockies took a 3-1 lead in the third with some timely hitting. Raimel Tapia drilled a one-out single to left and scored on Pillar’s double to center. Blackmon followed up with an RBI double to right-center to score Pillar.
Tapia, however, departed the game before the fifth inning with an apparent injury. The Rockies also played without star third baseman Nolan Arenado who is nursing a sore left shoulder.
MLB career home run leaders
|1. Barry Bonds||762|
|2. Hank Aaron||755|
|3. Babe Ruth||714|
|4. Alex Rodriguez||696|
|5T. Willie Mays||660|
|5T. Albert Pujols||660|
|7. Ken Griffey Jr.||630|
|8. Jim Thome||612|
|9. Sammy Sosa||609|
|10. Frank Robinson||586|
|* denotes active|