Entering Saturday's slate of MLB games, only eight players in the history of the game had ever hit 600 career home runs.
By the time Saturday's games were over, that number had grown to nine, thanks to Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols, who crushed his 600th-career homer in his team's 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Though Pujols joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Thome and Sammy Sosa in the 600 home runs club, he did it in a way none of the previous eight players to reach the milestone did.
When Pujols stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning against Minnesota pitcher Ervin Santana, the bases were loaded. Pujols then smacked a hanging slider over the left-field fence to become the first player ever to hit a grand slam for homer No. 600:
Immediately following the historic blast, Pujols was swamped by teammates at home plate. His wife, Deidre, also came down from the stands to give her talented husband a hug and a kiss after his accomplishment.
After taking four days between homers 599 and 600, Pujols told ESPN.com after the game that he was simply happy to finally have the pressure of the historic home run off of his back:
"I'm just glad to be on that list, man," Pujols said, laughing. "Whether it was a solo homer, a grand slam, I'm just glad that it happened tonight. It's a pretty special feeling. You look at the other players that come through the league and play so long, to be able to be No. 9 in that list is a pretty special number."
Sosa is No. 8 on the all-time list with 609 homers, and Thome is just ahead of that with 612. If Pujols stays healthy, he could climb all the way to No. 7 by the time this season comes to an end.
Pujols walked and struck out in his first two at-bats, so he said he was trying to get a good pitch to take a big swing at in his third plate appearance:
"Really, what I was trying to do was get a good pitch to hit," Pujols said. "If you look at the first two at-bats, I was just too aggressive. Just chasing bad pitches. I was just telling myself, 'Relax.'"
At only 37 years of age right now, Pujols has an outside chance of reaching 700 home runs, but it won't be easy. With a contract that runs through the end of the 2021 season, he'll need to average 20 home runs a year to reach the even more impressive milestone.
But, as many opponents have learned when facing the former St. Louis Cardinals superstar, it's never wise to count Pujols out.
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