St. Louis Cardinals @ LA Angels of Anaheim
Scheduled Start Time: 10:05 PM ET
(Sports Network) - Though Albert Pujols certainly enjoyed his time with the St. Louis Cardinals, he didn't want to talk about his former club on Sunday ahead of his first ever meeting with the franchise he helped take to new heights.
Regardless, Pujols will confront his history on Tuesday when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play host to the Cardinals for the first of three straight meetings.
A 13th round pick by St. Louis in 1999, Pujols was an instant success for the Cards upon making his major league debut in 2001. He batted .329 with 37 homers and 130 RBI in 161 games, winning the NL Rookie of the Year award.
It was the first of many individual honors Pujols would earn in a Cardinals uniform, including three NL MVP awards and nine All-Star Game selections as the right-handed slugger batted .328 with 445 homers and 1,329 RBI in 1,705 games with St. Louis.
Even more important, the Cardinals made the playoffs in seven of Pujols' 11 seasons with the club and twice won a World Series, doing so in 2006 and again in 2011.
But following that second title, Pujols took his services to the Angels, who signed him to a 10-year, $240 million contract.
'Let's talk about our team,' Pujols told his club's website on Sunday. 'Two years passed already, so we don't need to talk about that. ... Write about how we're playing and the series coming up, not about how I feel about St. Louis. That's not what it's all about.'
In his first season with the Angels, Pujols hit .343 with 30 home runs and 105 RBI in 154 contests, helping the team to an 89-73 record that was four games back of the second wild card position. This season, Los Angeles is four games under .500 ahead of this meeting and nine games back of first-place Texas in the AL West, while Pujols is batting .249 with 13 homers and 49 RBI.
And while Pujols has so far been unable to duplicate his success with the Angels, the Cards managed to secure the second wild card in the NL in its first season without the slugger and fell one game short of a return trip to the World Series, falling in seven games to San Francisco in the NLCS.
When the Cardinals were unable to re-sign Pujols, they instead inked Carlos Beltran to a contract to help replace the former MVP, and Beltran has hit .382 with 51 homers and 147 RBI over his season-plus with St. Louis.
The Cardinals are still contenders again this year as they hold one of the better records in baseball at 49-32, though they are now two games behind the streaking Pittsburgh Pirates for first place in the NL Central.
While Pittsburgh has won nine straight, St. Louis has lost six of its last eight, including Sunday's 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Oakland Athletics.
The Angels, meanwhile, return home after a perfect 6-0 road trip that saw three-game sweeps of Detroit and Houston. It marked the first time that Los Angeles posted an undefeated road trip of at least six games since Sept. 3-8, 2002, another six-game swing.
The Angels extended their winning streak to six straight with Sunday's 3-1 win over the Astros, two shy of their season high set from May 18-26.
'Any time you win games in a row and series, that's building confidence,' said Los Angeles' Howie Kendrick. 'We've got that right now.'
Confidence is also something Jered Weaver has ahead of his start tonight for the Angels. Weaver is coming off his best and longest outing of the season, a campaign that saw him suffer a broken left elbow during his second start that kept him out of action until May 29.
The righty came into last Thursday's meeting with the Tigers having lost three straight starts, but hurled seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball. He also walked two and struck out six, but did not factor into a 3-1 win.
'It's definitely a confidence builder,' Weaver said. 'That's the name of the game, going out there with confidence. Never going to stray away from that.'
Now 1-4 with a 4.15 earned run average in eight starts this season, the 30- year-old Weaver has not logged a decision in two previous meetings with St. Louis while posting a 5.00 ERA.
Right-hander Lance Lynn goes for the Cardinals and lost for the first time in six decisions on Wednesday in Houston.
All four runs that Lynn allowed over his 7 2/3 frames of work came in the fourth inning, but it was enough to suffer a 4-3 setback. Lynn lost for the first time since May 7, snapping an eight-start unbeaten streak.
'It just goes to show that one bad inning can hurt you,' said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny. 'He did a really good job before and after that inning, but they were able to get to him in that one frame there.'
The 26-year-old is still 10-2 on the season with a 3.52 ERA in 16 starts and faces the Angels for the first time.
The Cardinals lead the all-time series 5-4 and are making their first ever trip to Anaheim.