The I-70 Series kicked off Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
It turned out to be a home run derby.
And no home run was bigger than the one hit by Albert Pujols.
In his sixth at-bat back in St. Louis, and 3,855 days after his most recent home run in Busch Stadium as a Cardinal, the 42-year-old blasted a solo shot in the bottom of the first inning off of Royals pitcher Daniel Lynch to mark his 680th career home run.
Pujols, at 42, was four years older than Hall of Famer Larry Walker as the oldest Cardinals DH to homer and his Cardinals home run was No. 446 as a member of the Redbirds. He also received a massive standing ovation, capped off by a curtain call that will be remembered for a long time to come.
He ended the day going 3-4 in his best performance thus far of 2022.
His home run followed a two-run shot by Nolan Arenado to make it 3-0 Cardinals.
Lynch started off strong in the first inning, but soon the Cardinals’ bats proved to be too much to handle for the 25-year old. Meanwhile, the Royals’ bullpen, one of the best in all of Major League Baseball, kept the team in the game. As did the offense, as All-Star catcher Salvador Perez hit two homers. Later in the game, Michael A. Taylor hit another.
Defensively, the Royals picked up right where they left off in 2021 with stellar plays in the field.
For Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson, he had a decent start to the game, until the Kansas City bats woke up. His final line: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 K, 0 BB, 2 HR, 70 pitches, 39 strikes. He had Tommy John Surgery in September of 2020 and came back last year for just a few innings (8.2 to be exact) at the big league level. Heading into Spring Training, Hudson made it clear he was ready to roll. And he showed flashes of stellar pitching, but there’s still work ahead.
Speaking of ahead, tomorrow’s matchup features two aces: Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright.
(Photo Credit; St. Louis Post-Dispatch)