The wait is over! Albert Pujols hits a home run

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The wait is over! Albert Pujols hits a home run

From Comcast SportsNet
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- That day off sure did Albert Pujols some good. The 240 million slugger finally hit a home run for the Los Angeles Angels, ending the longest power drought of his career Sunday in a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Pujols connected in the fifth inning for a two-run shot, his first AL homer and the 446th overall. He didn't play in Saturday night's victory after Angels manager Mike Scioscia kept him out of the lineup for the first time this season. "I don't think anything's been lifted off my shoulders, man," said Pujols, who did not come out for a curtain call. "I don't think about what you guys write or what you think. I know what I'm capable of doing, and I come out here every day and try to get myself ready for the game and give 110 percent to this team and to this organization. And if I do that, there's nothing to be sorry about." Pujols circled the bases without showing much emotion -- same as he did so many times with the St. Louis Cardinals. But when he returned to the dugout, he had it all to himself. There was nobody home. No players, no coaches, no batboys. Pujols' teammates gave him the ol' silent treatment, a plot hatched by Torii Hunter. They were all waiting for the slugger in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse. Then, a burst of euphoria and they were all back on the bench, high-fiving and slapping him all over his body. "I thought that would be cool. I always wanted to do that, and it worked," Hunter said. "I just said: Let's get off the bench and go to the tunnel.' He was excited about it and we were, too. We had to think fast. When I have a day off, man, I do stupid stuff." Pujols had gone 33 games and 139 at-bats dating to last year without a home run in the regular season. The three-time NL MVP had a three-homer game for the Cardinals in the World Series and hit seven home runs in spring training. Pujols drove a 2-2 pitch from rookie right-hander Drew Hutchison (1-1) into the left-field bullpen. Mike Trout doubled one out before the home run. Pujols homered in his 28th game and 111th at-bat with the Angels, who signed him to a 10-year, 240 million contract as a free agent in December, touching off a frenzy that resulted in more than 5,000 extra season tickets being sold. This was his first home run at Angel Stadium, the 31st big league ballpark in which he's hit one. "The last three weeks here, the fans have wanted to see it, and I'm blessed that I got the opportunity to do it here in front of them," Pujols said with a trace of a grin. "They've been waiting and they've been impatient, and the last couple of days I heard some boos out there, but that's part of it. I touched on that the other day. If I could boo myself, I'd do it myself, too. "But don't blame the fans. If you want to blame somebody, blame me because I'm a big guy and I can take it. I'm not performing the way everybody's expecting, but the season isn't only 27 games. You play 162 games, and they're going to cheer us more than they're going to boo us." The home run drew a reaction far away, too. Several of his former St. Louis teammates were watching on television in the clubhouse after a win at Houston, and they clapped and cheered loudly when Pujols connected on Hutchison's slider. "My slider was pretty effective today, other than the one I hung to him," Hutchison said. "I was trying to bounce it in the dirt and I didn't execute it. When you don't execute your pitches, things like that happen." Pujols had not homered in the regular season since Sept. 22. He began the game batting .194 with five RBIs. His longest homer drought prior to this was in 2011, when he came up empty in 27 straight games and 105 at-bats. Previously, his longest home run drought at the start of a season was in 2008, when he failed to hit one in his first eight games and 27 at-bats. "Man, it's a relief for him and I'm pretty sure it's a relief for us," Hunter said. "We don't have to hear about Albert having a goose egg no more. I'm happy that he got this lifted off of him. Now he can go out there and just swing the bat and have fun." Jerome Williams (3-1) allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander gave up an unearned run in the seventh after Pujols -- a two-time Gold Glove winner -- committed his first error of the season with a bad throw to second. Angels lefty Scott Downs injured himself trying to avoid a line-drive single through the box by J.P. Arencibia with one out in the ninth and was replaced by LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins turned Omar Vizquel's line drive into a game-ending double play for his first save with the Angels.

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Capitals forced overtime but couldn't keep up against Hurricanes in preseason opener

Capitals forced overtime but couldn't keep up against Hurricanes in preseason opener

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ preseason opening loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1 in overtime, on Monday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Prospect Madison Bowey scored on the power play with 6:02 left to play to force overtime and give the Capitals’ prospect heavy-lineup a chance. But Justin Faulk rifled a shot past Drew MacIntyre on the power play to lift the Hurricanes with seven seconds remaining in the extra session. Carolina’s first goal was scored by Patrick Brown, who ripped a shot over Vitek Vanecek’s glove with 18 seconds left in the first period.

What it means: The storyline to watch is the injury suffered by Tom Wilson late in the second period. The Capitals said the big winger suffered an upper body injury and would not return for precautionary reasons. Although it was not immediately clear when Wilson got hurt, he did catch a shoulder from Jordan Staal with 3:18 remaining in the middle frame. Staal was whistled for elbowing and Wilson glided to the bench and took a seat. It should be noted that Staal and Wilson had been jawing at one another for much of the game.

Halfsies: Vanecek stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced, including a couple of big pad stops on the penalty kill in the first period. Overall, the 2014 second-round pick was mostly solid in his NHL debut but has work to do on his rebound control. Vanecek was replaced by Drew MacIntyre midway through the second period. MacIntyre, meantime, finished with 14 stops, including three in the extra session.

Anticipated debut: 2016 first rounder Lucas Johansen had a solid pro debut skating alongside veteran Taylor Chorney. Johansen, the 28th overall pick in June, skated 19:06. He finished with one shot, one hit and a minor penalty. Best word to sum up his performance? Uneventful, which is meant as a compliment for a rookie defenseman making his NHL debut.  

A-Team: With Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom out of the lineup, associate coach Todd Reirden handed out three alternate captain ‘A’s — to Orpik, Wilson and Jay Beagle. Orpik wore an ‘A’ last season; Wilson is expected to take on a bigger role on and off the ice this season; and Beagle is a hardworking, heart-and-soul guy.   

Inside the box score: Prospect Nathan Walker finished with a game-high six hits in 13:18 of ice time.

Look ahead: The Capitals face the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday night. Some of the players who suited up against the Hurricanes also might make the trip to Bell Centre, but Reirden said final decision on a lineup wouldn’t be made until after the coaches meet after Monday’s game. “For sure some players will play back-to-back games,” Reirden said before the game. “But we want to see how things go in terms of what people do with their opportunity. That’s the beauty of training camp.” 

RELATED: Tom Wilson left Carolina game in the second period with an injury

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Wilson Ramos exits Nats game vs. D'Backs with injury

Wilson Ramos exits Nats game vs. D'Backs with injury

The Nationals suffered another injury to an important player on Monday night, as All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos fell down holding his right leg on a throw home in the sixth inning on Monday night against the Diamondbacks.

Ramos was then helped off the field by trainers and teammates as Pedro Severino came in to replace him. Others in the Nats dugout looking stunned as he went straight to the locker room.

Ramos had surgery in 2012 to reconstruct his knee after tearing both his ACL and MCL. He missed the team's first playoff run because of it and has since blossomed into one of the best catchers in the majors.

Ramos fell down on a wet field after the game was resumed after a 20-minute rain delay. The 29-year-old is set to hit free agency this offseason for the first time in his career.

The Nationals are already without Bryce Harper (thumb) and Daniel Murphy (strained buttock) temporarily. Starter Stephen Strasburg is out indefinitely with a right flexor mass strain. Losing Ramos for any period of time would be a big blow with the playoffs right around the corner.

More on this story as it develops...

[RELATED: Thoughts on the death of Marlins star Jose Fernandez]

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