CINCINNATI — The pitch that Albert Pujols hit to set a new major-league record came from the hand of a St. Louis kid who was in high school when it all started.
Reds lefty Ross Detwiler, a freshman at Wentzville Holt High when Pujols made his major-league debut, delivered an 0-2 fastball to Pujols in the third inning Monday night at Great American Ball Park. Pujols connected on the 92.8 mph pitch and lofted it toward right field and into the seats.
Pujols’ 694th career home run put him two shy of tying Alex Rodriguez, six away from becoming the fourth member of the 700 club and one ahead of Bonds for a big-league record.
Detwiler was the 450th different pitcher Pujols had homered against.
On his way to 762 home runs, Bonds hit at least one homer off 449 different pitchers. Pujols, who split his career between the American League and National League, tied the record with his home run this past week off Drew Smyly at Wrigley Field. Facing another lefty, Missouri State alum Detwiler, he set it with his 15th home run of the season. A first-round pick in 2007, Detwiler grew up going to Cardinals games and has spent 14 seasons in the majors, and Pujols has had nine other cracks at hitting a home run against the lefty.
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Although this was the first time Detwiler faced Pujols in a Cardinals jersey.
To put the record in perspective, consider if Pujols only had those 450 home runs off 450 different pitchers. He would still rank ahead of Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Vladimir Guerrero Sr. in career homers. They each had 449 career homers.
The home run Monday continued Pujols’ march toward 700, and along the way, he’s sure to join other exclusive round-number clubs. The run he scored on the homer Monday was the 1,900th of his career, making the 12th player to do that. (Stan Musial ranks 10th with 1,949 runs.) Pujols’ two RBIs on the swing against Detwiler gave him 2,190 for his career. Only two other players — Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth — have reached and surpassed 2,200 career RBIs.