Detroit — For his 2,000th career RBI, Albert Pujols drove in ... Albert Pujols.
Pujols, the Los Angeles Angels' Hall of Fame-bound slugger, launched a no-doubt home run over the bullpens in left field in the third inning of Thursday's game off Comerica Park.
Pujols drilled Ryan Carpenter's 91-mph fastball and sent it 415 feet into the sparsely filled seats in left. Carpenter's name forever will be linked to history.
"Not the way I'd like it to go," Carpenter said with a smile.
Pujols, never one to show anybody up, did allow himself to soak up the moment with a pretty animated bat flip before strutting around the bases.
Once he crossed home plate, the Tigers recognized the historic achievement on the big scoreboard and in an announcement, prompting a nice ovation from the Tigers fans who stuck around after a nearly hour-long rain delay before the series finale got under way.
“Everything that I have accomplished in this game is pretty special to me," Pujols told reporters after the 13-0 win in the series finale. “The best thing is, at the end of the day, you do it and you help your team to win. We end up winning the game and winning the series. That’s more special.
"It’s great. It’s a great moment to be out there, the third one on the list.”
Pujols, 39, is recognized by Elias Sports Bureau as the third player to reach the 2,000 RBI mark, along with Hank Aaron (2,297) and Alex Rodriguez (2,086), but there's an asterisk there. Elias only counts RBIs post-1920. Babe Ruth is unofficially credited with 2,214 and Cap Anson with 2,075.
For the season, that was Pujols' sixth home run and 18th RBI, as he continues to be a solid run producer, if not the hitter he was with the St. Louis Cardinals and in his early years with the Angels.
Against the Tigers, Pujols has 15 homers and 40 RBIs in 62 career games, not including the postseason — the five-game World Series in 2006, when he had a homer and two RBIs.
"With Albert, you kind of feel honored just being on the field with him and watching him play," Ron Gardenhire said. "It's kind of neat just watching him, to tell you the truth.
"It's fun. Not when he hits a home run against us, but I've seen him do it so many times.
"A class act. Congratulations to him."
The fan who caught the ball, a 33-year-old law student named Ely Hydes, decided to keep the ball, despite numerous attempts from Tigers and Cardinals officials to broker a trade.
Meanwhile, Pujols isn't likely to be joined in the 2,000-RBI club anytime soon.
The next-closest among active ballplayers is Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who's at 1,649 and isn't exactly rising up the ladder very fast. Cabrera, hampered by injuries in recent seasons, has just 96 RBIs since the start of the 2017 season.
The significant of RBIs in recent years, of course, has been downplayed as advanced analytics have become more in vogue. Pujols defended the statistic, and his accomplishment.
“To win games, you have to drive runs in," he said. "I know right now there’s a lot of geniuses that don’t want to give credit to RBIs, which I don’t understand because that’s how you win games.”