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OC Register: Albert Pujols homers twice as Angels clobber Mariners 11-2


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ANAHEIM — On the same day the Angels lost Garrett Richards for the remainder of the season, the baseball gods, in an act of karmic retribution, knocked out Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton before the Angels had a fair chance.

Prior to Thursday, Paxton had not lost a start at Angel Stadium since April 2015. David Fletcher did his best to stop the streak, hitting his first career home run on Paxton’s second pitch of the game. The Angels had just begun to pile on – Mike Trout singled, Albert Pujols homered – when Paxton’s back gave out.

Just like that, the remaining eight innings were bushwhacked into an unobstructed path to victory. Justin Upton crushed a three-run homer. Pujols hit another home run, tying Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list with 630. Starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs allowed one run over six innings, and the Angels ended a dour day with an 11-2 victory.

By beating the Mariners twice in the three-game series, the Angels crept closer to a division rival who had their number all season. They won four out of six games in their final homestand before the All-Star break.

Pujols went 3 for 3 with a walk, the first time this season he’s reached base four times. His three hits helped him leapfrog Rod Carew and tie Rickey Henderson for 25th place all-time (3,055). The last of the three: a no-doubt, 419-foot home run to left field in the sixth inning against Nick Rumbelow.

Ian Kinsler also had three hits for the Angels. Fletcher and Upton each had two of the Angels’ 15 hits against Paxton and six relievers. Former Angels infielder Andrew Romine mopped up the final inning, his fifth career pitching appearance, and allowed two runs.

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Paxton, the Mariners’ left-handed ace, owned a 2.07 earned-run average in 11 career starts against the Angels before Thursday. He lasted just five batters before a trainer escorted him off the mound with what the Mariners described as “low back tightness.” Paxton (8-4) was charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Skaggs (7-5) rebounded nicely from an early error. Dee Gordon began the game with a chopper toward first base, went to second base when Skaggs scooped an underhand throw to no one in particular and scored on an RBI single by Kyle Seager.

Skaggs threw 26 pitches in the extended first inning but limited the damage to one run. The left-hander only faced two batters above the minimum before turning the game over to the bullpen in the seventh inning. He walked one batter while striking out five and scattering five hits, all singles.

Skaggs was 3-4 with a 3.60 earned-run average on May 28. In six starts since, he hasn’t allowed a home run, going 4-1 with a 0.95 ERA.

Noe Ramirez pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Oliver Drake allowed one run over the final two innings for the Angels, who visit the Dodgers for a three-game interleague series beginning Friday.

With an announced crowd of 44,027 for a Shohei Ohtani bobblehead giveaway, Ohtani did not appear in the game. Manager Mike Scioscia preferred Jefry Marte at first base, and Pujols as his designated hitter, with the left-handed Paxton starting the game. Despite Paxton’s quick exit, Ohtani remained on the bench.

The Angels (48-46) are 10 games behind the Mariners (58-36) for the American League’s second wild-card spot.

More to come on this story.

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19 minutes ago, Angel Oracle said:

Only 31 HRs from tying Mays for 5th place, and possibly reaching 2000 rbis this season

If he gets 700 more at bats through 2019, he would need 179 hits (.256 BA) in order to stay at .300.

Seems that 2019 should be his final MLB season?   And hope he hits for a little higher BA than he has for the past 1.5 seasons?

When he hits .301 he should retire as soon as possible.

He might pass Mays by that point and will certainly have his 2,000 RBI. His numbers will be among the best all-time and he will waltz into the Hall of Fame when that time comes.

Do the right thing, Albert! I'm sure the ownership of the team can work out a nice buyout for you for the last two years of your contract.

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41 minutes ago, fan_since79 said:

When he hits .301 he should retire as soon as possible.

He might pass Mays by that point and will certainly have his 2,000 RBI. His numbers will be among the best all-time and he will waltz into the Hall of Fame when that time comes.

Do the right thing, Albert! I'm sure the ownership of the team can work out a nice buyout for you for the last two years of your contract.

Spread out the $59 million (plus whatever is the interest) over the 10 years personal services contract period.   

AAV payroll/tax threshold question:  Can the Halos do that, and then only count $5.9 million + interest against the tax threshold for 2020-2029?      

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