I thought Albert Pujols had done it all. I guess I was wrong. After tagging Carlos Rodon for eight earned runs (he'd given up seven all year coming into last night), Cardinal's manager Oli Marmol, who is seven years younger than Albert Pujols, decided to let the man with 681 home runs do something he'd never done, pitch. What made this so unique is that the Cardinals were winning. That's not to say that it's a surprise to see the Cardinals in front. They're one of the best franchises in sports, but I feel like position players usually pitch when their teams run out of pitchers. That wasn't the case last night when the (alleged) 42-year-old came in to throw the first inning of his career.
Don't get me wrong, Pujols did get popped. He gave up four runs, including two home runs but...who cares? Did anyone expect him to be Ohtani? Albert Pujols closed out a baseball game. How crazy is that? This is one of those things that could only happen in baseball. I understand players are valued differently, and other sports require more physical contact, but it's like having Tom Brady take a few snaps at free safety. Does it make sense? No. Is it fun? Hell yeah!
As fun as this moment is for baseball, especially Cardinals fans, I have to give a little bit of a credit to the Giants here. It seemed like they were enjoying this as well. I feel like it would've been easy for certain managers (*cough* Chris Woodward *cough*) to get butthurt and claim that using Pujols before the game was technically over was some sort of disrespect. Now I'm sure Gabe Kapler's crew would've preferred not to be losing by 13 runs going into the 9th (hot take, I know), but if you're going to get destroyed, at least have some fun doing it. And hey, at least some guys were able to pad their stats. Everything balances in the end. Giants outfielder Luis González, who also made his pitching debut tonight, throwing an inning and a third scoreless, took Pujols deep.
It's a unique thing in baseball when a team can hold onto their aging stars in a way that doesn't feel contrived. It would be easy for an organization like the Cardinals to use this entire season as a PR stunt, knowing that Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols, and Yadier Molina are in their last seasons, but that isn't the case. The Cardinals are a competitive team, making for a potentially unique baseball anomaly. St. Louis will play for something this year. Is it likely that guys like Pujols go out on top? Probably not, but it's possible that these three Cardinals legend will find their way back into the starting lineup for a playoff team once again, and a small reason for that will be because Albert Pujols saved the Cardinals' bullpen from having to throw an extra-inning against the Giants. It was an awesome moment.