Albert Pujols was Will Smith’s #1 player growing up. Pujols gave back in kind by driving in Smith with his first homer as a Dodger.
The three-time NL MVP and the new confronted catcher only three years into his significant league career helped Los Angeles beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 on Thursday night.
“That was special,” Smith said. “I’ll remember being on base when he hit his first one as a Dodger and high-fiving when he touched home plate. I look at him as a teammate now, not really an idol.”
Pujols sent a 0-1 pitch from Merrill Kelly to right field, with Josh Reddick leaping to the top of the wall in an attempt to make the catch. Smith, who singled beginning, scored. Pujols was welcomed by high-fives from his colleagues in the dugout.
It was Pujols’ 668th career home run, most among active players and fifth all-time, and followed the 445 he hit for the St. Louis Cardinals and 222 for the Los Angeles Angels.
The success gave the Dodgers a four-game scope, outscoring Arizona 19-6. They went 8-1 on the homestand and have won four in succession and eight of nine.
Pujols joined the Dodgers from the Los Angeles Angels on a one-year bargain Monday. His appearance has harmonized with the Dodgers’ series of wins, however he guarantees no credit.
“These guys are a heck of a ballclub,” he said. “Before I got there, this team is probably the best team in the major leagues. They know how to win. It’s great to be here. I feel like home.”
At 41 years, 124 days, Pujols is the most established Dodgers player with a grand slam since Rickey Henderson homered for them at age 44 of every 2003, as per ESPN Stats and Information research.
The hit was his 3,256th, breaking a bind with Eddie Murray for thirteenth on the unsurpassed rundown.
“It felt great just to give our team an early lead right there in the bottom of the second. It’s always great,” Pujols said. “Thank god for giving me the opportunity to hit the ball the other way, hit it out of the ballpark and give an early lead to our ball club.”