Around 1:05 p.m. on Monday, inside a suite of offices hugging the left-field pole at Dodger Stadium, general manager Farhan Zaidi reached for his iPhone. He had just finished an hour of feverish negotiating to complete a monumental trade minutes before the early-afternoon deadline. Now he thumbed a three-word text to his team’s manager.transforms the pack-shot. The market segment, summing up the above examples, is rigid. This is the way Albert Pujols’ Angels career goes. There will be slumps that spark all the talk about his demise.
And then he will remind you that there is some thunder left in is bat.
Pujols homered and drove in five runs for the Angels on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, a game the Angels led 5-1 in the eighth inning. The performance, which also included a single, followed a two-homer, three-hit game on Sunday.
The hot couple of games followed an 0-for-24 streak that ranked as one of the longest of his career. It was a stretch in which even Manager Mike Scioscia had to concede that Pujols looked “out of sync.”
He seems to be OK now.
In the fifth inning, he went the other way with a double into right field, driving in two to put the Angels up 2-1. They were still nursing the same lead in the seventh, when Pujols pulled a drive just inside the left-field pole.
The three-run homer was the 608th of his career, which pulls him within one of tying Sammy Sosa for the most homers hit by a player born outside the United States.
The late runs gave a little cushion to the Angels bullpen, which is now without David Hernandez.
They took over the game after Ricky Nolasco tossed six strong innings on the one-year anniversary of the deal that brought him to the Angels.
Despite much criticism of Nolasco this season, overall that deal has to be judged a success for the Angels.
Since the trade, Nolasco has pitched 198 innings with a 4.27 ERA over 33 starts. The Angels have paid him the same salary as Hector Santiago, thanks to the Twins covering the difference in their salaries. Santiago, who is currently on the disabled list, has posted a 5.61 ERA in 131 2/3 innings with the Twins.
Even if those two were a wash, the key for the Angels to the trade was that they hoped that Alex Meyer could develop into a quality major league starter.
Although Meyer is currently on the disabled list with shoulder problems, he has nonetheless posted a 3.94 ERA in 89 innings with the Angels. Alan Busenitz, the reliever the Angels sent to the Twins, has a 3.38 ERA in 10 big league innings.
While Nolasco’s performance over the year has been just what the Angels expected, this season he’s been much more inconsistent. After a bad start to the season, for the last five weeks he’s mixed good and bad outings.
He was good on Tuesday. After allowing a first-inning run, he didn’t give up anything else. In the sixth, he escaped a jam with runners on first and second and no outs.
It was his fifth quality start in his past seven games.
The only potential issue for the Angels on the night was Yunel Escobar, who came out of the game in the eighth. He motioned as if he felt something in his right oblique after a big swing on a third strike in the seventh. There was no immediate word on his condition.