Cubs nemesis Albert Pujols punctuates rivalry with epic breakup shot

You don’t have to like the Cardinals to appreciate that Pujols originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Talk about a breakup plan.

In his final career at-bat against the Cubs, Cardinals all-time great Albert Pujols did what all-time greats do — this time posting one of the most prolific Cubs hitters in Cubs hitter history with two running exclamation point.

His 59th career home run against the Cubs was an eighth-inning winner in a scoreless game Sunday that swept the Cubs out of town and pushed his career total to 695 with 28 games remaining in what he insists is it will be his last season.

“He’s the machine for a reason,” the retired pitcher said.

Wait, no. That’s what the last Cubs player to give up a home run off Pujols — Drew Smyly — said after that seventh-inning homer less than two weeks earlier beat the Cubs 1-0 at Wrigley Field.

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Pujols has hit more homers against the Cubs than any team except the Astros (62) and, with the Cubs-Cards season complete, finishes his career against the Cubs with a .292 average, .605 slugging percentage and .999 OPS.

Cubs rookie left-hander Brandon Hughes on Sunday became the 451st different pitcher Pujols has played against, two more than Barry Bonds’ previous record (Pujols tied the record against Smyly).

Sunday’s parting shot — off the bench, no less — was certainly a fitting end, if not a summation, to 199 games traded with Pujols that began in 2001 and included sporadic meetings with his Angels from 2013 to 2019, to until he returned to the Cardinals for his final season this year.

And you don’t have to like the Cardinals to appreciate Pujols.

Of course, that may not be the case for the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s home game.

As much as Sunday’s blowout could have been worse for the Cubs if they were vying for a playoff spot and as “significant” as a Chicago columnist suggested the scene was in the bigger picture after the game, Cubs manager David Ross didn’t seem in any mood to wax historic about the moment or join the abundant chorus singing Pujols’ praises.

“Look, they’re a really good team, and they’ve got some guys that have been in multiple leagues,” he said on the game’s broadcast when asked about the Pujols moment, “and they’ve got momentum on their side. Right now. They’re playing really good baseball… And then a Hall of Famer steps up and hits a pinch-hit homer. Just one of those — you’ve got to tip your cap to them. Our guys battled really hard and got a little closer.”

Pujols put the game-winning moment into context when he spoke to the St. Louis media. Louis next.

“It’s pretty special to be able to do that,” said the man – The Machine – who is now one home run short of Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the all-time list.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol was more than willing to appreciate the history and magnitude of the moment for Pujols’ career as he hit the sweep that pushed the Cards’ lead at the top of the division to 8 1/2 games.

“There are moments in this game where you take a step back from being locked into the game and become a fan for a minute and experience it like everyone else,” Marmol told St. Louis media. Louis after the game. “This was one of them.

“You take it all in because what he does is absolutely incredible.”

And that’s the thing, whether you’re a Cardinal, like Marmol, or you hate the Cardinals like most Cubs fans.

Few opponents have put up the career performances against the Cubs that Pujols has. And Cubs fans can at least take solace in the fact that they finally saw the last of him against their team — maybe even the last player who did so many of the things he did against the Cubs so often.

In fact, two of his four career three-homer games came against the Cubs, in 2004 and 2010, and he added a two-homer game in 2011.

His first homer against the Cubs was the 12th of his career, off Kyle Farnsworth on May 12, 2001, in St. Louis (he added his 13th the next day). His first Wrigley Field home run was against Kerry Wood on July 28 of that year — in a game that current Royals manager Mike Matheny caught for the Cardinals, current White Sox manager Miguel Cairo for the Cubs and current Cubs broadcaster Ron Coomer. started at third for the Cubs.

He hit his 300th career game off Cubs reliever Bob Howry on July 4, 2008, an eighth-inning solo shot in a 2-1 victory by the eventual division champion Cubs.

He hit 55 against the Cubs as a Cardinal. four as an angel.

The Cubs went 18-36 in the games Pujols pitched against them.

The complete list of Pujols’ home runs against the Cubs (career HR number in parentheses), with the result of the Cubs game (bold face denotes multi-HR game):

  • (12) May 12, 2001, in St. Louis—L, 5-2

  • (13) May 13, 2001, in St. Louis—L, 13-4

  • (25) July 28, 2001, at Chicago — L, 7-4

  • (53) June 23, 2002, at Chicago — W, 8-3

  • (68) Aug. 30, 2002, at Chicago — L, 6-3

  • (69) Aug. 31, 2002, at Chicago — L, 8-1

  • (81) May 17, 2003, in St. Louis—W, 2-1

  • (82) May 19, 2003, in St. Louis—L, 2-0

  • (96) July 4, 2003, at Chicago — L, 11-8

  • (97) July 5, 2003, at Chicago — W, 6-5

  • (106) August 26, 2003, in St. Louis—W, 7-4

  • (122) May 3, 2004, in St. Louis—W, 7-3

  • (125) May 21, 2004, at Chicago — L, 7-6

  • (126) May 23, 2004, at Chicago — W, 4-3

  • (134) June 23, 2004, in St. Louis—L, 10-9

  • (136) July 9, 2004, in St. Louis—L, 6-1

  • (139) July 20, 2004, at Chicago — L, 11-8

  • (140) July 20, 2004, at Chicago — (L, 11-8)

  • (141) July 20, 2004, at Chicago — (L, 11-8)

  • (164) April 20, 2005, in St. Louis—W, 3-1

  • (192) Aug. 11, 2005, at Chicago — W, 11-4

  • (193) Aug. 13, 2005, at Chicago — L, 5-2

  • (196) September 5, 2005, in St. Louis—L, 6-4

  • (197) September 7, 2005, in St. Louis—W, 2-1

  • (212) April 21, 2006, in St. Louis—L, 9-3

  • (237) Aug. 18, 2006, at Chicago — L, 11-3

  • (255) April 22, 2007, at Chicago — L, 12-9

  • (256) April 28, 2007, in St. Louis—W, 8-1

  • (273) July 26, 2007, in St. Louis—L, 11-1

  • (276) Aug. 17, 2007, at Chicago — W, 2-1

  • (277) Aug. 18, 2007, at Chicago — W, 5-3

  • (278) Aug. 19, 2007, at Chicago — L, 6-4

  • (281) September 14, 2007, in St. Louis—W, 5-3

  • (288) May 3, 2008, in St. Louis—W, 9-3

  • (300) July 4, 2008, in St. Louis—W, 2-1

  • (306) Aug. 9, 2008, at Chicago — L, 12-3

  • (315) September 9, 2008, in St. Louis—L, 4-3

  • (326) April 25, 2009, in St. Louis—L, 8-2

  • (333) May 21, 2009, in St. Louis—L, 3-1

  • (351) July 10, 2009, at Chicago — L, 8-3

  • (376) May 30, 2010, at Chicago — L, 9-1

  • (377) May 30, 2010, at Chicago — (L, 9-1)

  • (378) May 30, 2010, at Chicago — (L, 9-1)

  • (389) July 25, 2010, at Chicago — L, 4-3

  • (395) August 13, 2010, in St. Louis—L, 6-3

  • (396) August 15, 2010, in St. Louis—W, 9-7

  • (408) September 26, 2010, at Chicago — L, 8-7

  • (418) June 3, 2011, in St. Louis—L, 6-1

  • (419) June 4, 2011, in St. Louis—L, 5-4

  • (420) June 4, 2011, at St. Louis — (L, 5-4)

  • (421) June 5, 2011, in St. Louis—L, 3-2

  • (432) July 30, 2011, at Chicago — L, 13-5

  • (439) Aug. 21, 2011, at Chicago — L, 6-2

  • (484)* June 4, 2013, at Anaheim — L, 4-3

  • (489)* July 9, 2013, at Chicago — W, 7-2

  • (490)* July 10, 2013, at Chicago — L, 13-2

  • (635)* April 12, 2019, at Chicago — W, 5-1

  • (693) Aug. 22, 2022, at Chicago — L, 1-0

  • (695) September 4, 2022, in St. Louis—L, 2-0

*-With Angels.

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