The Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to give Albert Pujols a crowd-pleasing start at first base Tuesday when they visit the St. Louis Cardinals, his original team.
“Having another opportunity to go back to where everything started for me, it’s going to be a special moment,” said Pujols said, who spent 11 seasons with the Cardinals.
“Those are my roots over there. But at the end of the day, I don’t think this week is going to be focused on me. We’re both in the playoff hunt. … They really appreciate good baseball in St. Louis, and they’ll have two great baseball teams and great organizations play this week.
“And it might be a little taste of maybe an October playoffs against the Dodgers and the Cardinals, who knows?”
Fans at Busch Stadium chanted “We want Albert!” Monday in the opener of this four-game series, which the Dodgers won 5-1. Pujols did not appear in the game.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he would use Pujols against left-handed starter J.A. Happ Tuesday. Roberts is trying to find days off for Max Muncy and Corey Seager down the stretch.
The Dodgers (87-51) have won five of their last seven games to remain within one game back of the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
The Cardinals (69-67) have lost four of their last five games to fall 3 1/2 games behind the San Diego Padres for the second wild-card spot.
Happ (8-7, 6.20 ERA) is looking to bounce back from his worst outing since arriving in a trade with the Minnesota Twins. He allowed seven runs on eight hits, including two homers, and retired just three hitters in the 12-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
“I felt alright coming into it,” Happ said. “I guess give them credit. It seemed like when I made a mistake, they capitalized. Even when I felt like I executed, they were able to sort of hit it where we weren’t. It’s certainly frustrating … wanting to come in and try to set the tone for our guys and certainly frustrated I wasn’t able to do that.”
Prior to his struggle against the Reds, Happ was 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA in five August starts for the Cardinals.
Happ is 0-3 with a 2.74 ERA in five career appearances against the Dodgers, including four starts. Pujols (10-for-41, double, homer, seven RBIs) and Mookie Betts (9-for-44, double, triple, two homers, five RBIs) have extensive experience against Happ.
Roberts will likely call on recently recalled Mitch White (1-2, 3.49) Tuesday, but not as the starter.
“Most likely we’ll open with somebody and (White) will take the bulk of it,” Roberts said.
The Cardinals activated reliever Andrew Miller (foot blister) from the injured list for this series and designated Brandon Dickson for assignment.
The Dodgers promoted Neftali Feliz from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned Andrew Vasquez. Roberts said another bullpen move is possible before Tuesday’s game.
–Field Level Media