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Cardinals notebook: Pujols powers past Musial’s total base record and keeps slugging

PHOENIX — The day Stan Musial had two hits in the same inning to leap ahead of Ty Cobb and into sole position of the all-time lead in total bases, he said he had not “paid much attention” to that record.

“But my friends tell me it will eventually be the one I will prize the most,” Musial said, according to reports at the time.

It was one that continued to define consistent excellence, became a signature statistic for an elite and complete hitter, and it had staying power.

For 60 years, ever since June 1962, Musial’s 6,134 total bases ranked first or second all-time in career total bases, surpassed only by Hank Aaron (6,856). The two legends have been joined by a Cardinal, one Musial would find familiar. He watched him take flight.

With a home run in the second inning Saturday night at Chase Field, Albert Pujols caught and surpassed Musial’s total base number, moving to 6,137 for his career. And he wasn’t done. Pujols’ home run in the fourth inning gave him 692 for his career, four more total bases, and put him eight homers shy of 700, five of tying Alex Rodriguez. Pujols lined a single off the left-field wall in the sixth to reach midgame with 6,142 total bases.

The Cardinals’ game finished after this edition, but at deadline Pujols had his second multi-homer game of the week and six homers in his previous 10 days.

Greeted by fans calling his nickname, “The Machine,” as he took the field for batting practice, Pujols entered Saturday’s game one base shy of “The Man.” With one out in the second, he drilled a pitch from veteran lefty Madison Bumgarner to the nook of seats in center field at Chase. His second home run came off the same pitcher and landed in the same area. The eight total bases on two swings gave Pujols 6,141 for his career. He got there with 692 homers, 16 triples, 681 doubles, and 1,963 singles.

Sixth-inning update: Make that 6,142 total bases and 1,964 singles.

Musial built his total bases through a 22-year career that did not include 500 home runs. He accumulated bases by running them — complementing 475 career homers with 725 doubles and 177 triples.

He did, of course, tie Cobb with a homer.

On June 22, 1962, against Philadelphia, a 41-year-old Musial hit a home run and a record-breaking single in the same inning to push past Cobb and alone into the major-league lead for total bases. Cobb’s record was defined at 5,863 when Musial eclipsed it. Research has since adjusted it. Musial would play another season and become the first player in major-league history with more than 6,000 total bases. He has since been joined by Aaron, Pujols, and Willie Mays.

When Musial retired, he shared or owned 29 different National League records and 17 different major-league ones.

He is still the all-time leader for left-handed hitters in total bases.

Musial was a presence around the Cardinals when Pujols reached the majors after a thunderous spring in 2001. Musial threw out a ceremonial first pitch at Coors Field during the same series Pujols made his major-league debut. Eight years later, in April 2009, teammates watched as a protective Pujols adjusted Musial’s jacket against the chill before pre-game ceremonies. Pujols spoke on the phone to Musial shortly before “baseball’s perfect knight” died in January 2013.

A year ago, sitting at Dodger Stadium, with Musial’s career records for extra base hits and total bases on the horizon, Pujols spoke with the Post-Dispatch about what that meant, what possibly passing them would mean. He was moved a month ago when he tied and passed Musial with 1,378 extra-base hits.

“I’m going to be emotional,” he correctly predicted a year ago. “I will be. I’m pretty sure he’ll be looking down from Heaven, looking down with a smile, his big smile. Proud of me — I hope.”

Molina leaves Cardinals for weekend

The Cardinals placed catcher Yadier Molina on the restricted list Saturday afternoon so they could replace the veteran on the roster as he left the team for the weekend. Molina notified team officials that he had “business reasons” to travel to Puerto Rico, said John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations.

Molina is expected to be in the lineup Monday at Wrigley Field, his manager said.

“He came up to us and asked for the weekend for business matters, (and) we granted it,” Oliver Marmol said.

Molina had three singles Friday to reach 2,152 in his career, moving ahead of Yogi Berra and into fifth all-time among primary catchers. Molina was not scheduled to catch Saturday. Marmol said the catcher was set to start Sunday with lefty Jose Quintana and will likely miss that game. By putting Molina on the restricted list, the Cardinals could replace him with rookie catcher Ivan Herrera. The Cardinals planned for Molina’s possible departure by bringing Herrera to Arizona on Friday and placing him on the taxi squad.

Players who are unavailable to their team are placed on the restricted list, and while on they do not receive their salary.

The Cardinals declined to give a specific reason for Molina’s departure, though did assure that the team had no concerns about Molina’s return or an extended absence. The professional basketball team Molina owns in Puerto Rico won its league’s championship Saturday night in Game 6 of Baloncesto Superior Nacional finals. The Vaqueros de Bayamon have won 16 league titles in their history, two since Molina purchased the franchise.

Molina was at least present for the trophy presentation late Saturday.

He has returned to Puerto Rico before this season, once to be present when his son had surgery and again to recover from persisting knee pain and work his way back into game-ready condition. 

Gorman draws a crowd

Nolan Gorman, a Phoenix-area native and graduate of nearby Sandra Day O’Connor High, had been to games at Chase Field, watched Paul Goldschmidt star circle its bases, seen playoff games there, and even walked on the field, but he did something Friday for the first time.

His first swings at Chase Field were as a big leaguer.

The Cardinals’ rookie eyed his homecoming on the schedule shortly after his promotion to the majors, and he prepared by turning over ticket requests to his mother. He did not start Friday or Saturday — but likely will Sunday against Arizona’s right-handed starter. And there will be a crowd. He estimated there have been 150-160 family and close friends at the series, and there could be as many as 300 people coming to see him.

“Going to be a lot,” he said.

So many they organized to buy tickets in a section.

“It’s also exciting to play in all the other parks – this is the big leagues,” Gorman said. “This is going to be special just to have all that support.”

Extra bases

Ryan and Alex Helsley announced the birth of their first child, daughter Eliana Helsley. The Cardinals’ All-Star closer was placed on the paternity list so he could be present for the birth. He’s expected to rejoin the team Monday. … New addition and lefty reliever JoJo Romero arrived in Arizona during the sixth inning of Friday’s game. He had spent the previous few days jetting across the country, from Memphis to Los Angeles to Atlanta, so that he could be present in the LA area for the recent birth of his first child, a daughter. … Jack Flaherty is set to start for Class AA Springfield on Sunday, and the right-hander will aim for 65 to 70 pitches in what could be his penultimate rehab appearance before rejoining the rotation.

The Cardinals' Albert Pujols celebrates his solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, in Phoenix.

The Cardinals’ Albert Pujols celebrates his solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, in Phoenix.

Derrick Goold

@dgoold on Twitter

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