Cardinals-Angels Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 02, 2013
It doesn't sound like Albert Pujols wants to discuss his departure from the St. Louis Cardinals as he prepares to face them for the first time. The three-time NL MVP is posting career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage for the Los Angeles Angels, who have floundered most of the season but enter Tuesday night's opener of a three-game home set with the Cardinals on a six-game win streak. Pujols became an icon during his 11-year career with St. Louis, becoming the only player in baseball history to bat .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in his first 10 seasons. He earned MVP honors in 2005, 2008 and 2009 and helped the Cardinals capture World Series titles in 2006 and 2011. The slugger signed a 10-year, $240 contract with Los Angeles (39-43) before last season, posting career lows with a .285 average, .343 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage in 2012 as the Angels missed the playoffs. Those numbers have dipped to .249, .323 and .429 in 2013. Pujols didn't sound open to questions about St. Louis (49-32) when they were posed to him Sunday. "Let's talk about our team," Pujols told the Angels' official website. "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." The Cardinals haven't missed him too much, falling one game short of another trip to the World Series last year and owning baseball's second-best mark in 2013. Pujols is close friends with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who has emerged as an MVP candidate this year. "When he left the team, you felt like, 'Wow, we let the best guy go'" Molina told the Cardinals' official website. "But at the same time, there are a bunch of guys here who want to be successful and try to win, too. We're going to win no matter what." Pujols says that he continues to keep track of his former team. "It's a little bit different, because usually I'm rooting for them, but now I'm going to root against them for the next three days," Pujols said. "I still follow them real close. I'm pretty good friends with almost half the guys." Pujols is in a 4-for-34 slump and will face Lance Lynn (10-2, 3.52 ERA) for the first time. The Cardinals right-hander owns a 4.72 ERA on the road compared to a 2.42 mark at home, and is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in five career interleague road starts as he faces Los Angeles for the first time. Mike Trout has developed into the face of the Angels' franchise and went 10 for 23 as they swept last week's six-game trip to Detroit and Houston. Trout sat out Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Astros with a mild hamstring problem but should play Tuesday. Los Angeles starter Jered Weaver (1-4, 4.15) is 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 24 career interleague starts, and 0-0 with a 5.00 ERA in two against the Cardinals. He's 0-3 with a 4.40 ERA over his last five outings. The Cardinals have dropped six of eight. This is their first-ever visit to Anaheim after going 5-4 against the Angels at home.
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