This You Gotta See: Cardinals’ Albert Pujols brings chase for 700th home run to Wrigley

The great slugger arrives with 692 career dingers, fifth on the all-time list, as a five-game series against the Cubs gets underway.

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Albert Pujols homers Saturday in Arizona.

Albert Pujols homers Saturday in Arizona.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Is this really happening?

Can it be?

Will Albert Pujols actually make it to 700 home runs after all?

The great slugger, 42 years old and in his final season — he insists — hits Wrigley Field on Monday with 692 career dingers, fifth on the all-time list, as a five-game series against the Cubs gets underway. And Pujols is startlingly, wonderfully hot, with six homers in his last nine games, including a grand slam Thursday in St. Louis and a pair of bombs Saturday in Arizona.

The Cardinals are threatening to run away with the National League Central title, but Pujols’ chase for 700 — he’s only four shy of Alex Rodriguez’s 696 — might soon overshadow that developing story, not to mention teammate Paul Goldschmidt’s MVP bid. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) are in the 700 club.

Pujols has 29 homers in 96 career games at Wrigley, the first one coming over 21 years ago off Kerry Wood. He hit his most recent one in 2019 off Cole Hamels while playing for the Angels, but you have to go back to Aug. 21, 2011, for his last one at the Friendly Confines as a Cardinal; Rodrigo Lopez served it up. By then, “El Hombre” was the man and already on track for first-ballot Hall of Fame induction.

After Pujols’ final games at Wrigley, there will be three more against the Cubs at Busch Stadium to start September. If the Cubs have any sense of history at all, they’ll help an hombre out.

And here’s what’s happening:

MON 22

White Sox at Royals (1:10 p.m., NBCSCH)

Michael Kopech takes the bump for the visitors in a game rescheduled from way back on April 7. That’s so long ago, Sox fans weren’t even throwing things at their TVs yet.

Cardinals at Cubs (7:05 p.m., Marquee)

If we’ve learned one thing lately about the plucky North Siders, it’s that they aren’t going to roll over for anybody — especially not the dudes from down I-55.

TUE 23

Cardinals at Cubs (1:20 p.m., 7:05 p.m., Marquee)

Easy for us to say, but we’d dang sure go with Pujols at designated hitter for both games of this day-night double dip if we were Redbirds skipper Oliver Marmol.

New York Liberty v Chicago Sky - Game One

Kahleah Copper and the Sky look to close out the pesky Liberty.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Sky at Liberty, Game 3 (8 p.m., ESPN)

The champs wouldn’t dare follow up on a 38-point Game 2 win — the largest margin in WNBA postseason history — with a rubber-match flameout, would they? We don’t think so, either.

“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (10 p.m., HBO)

Big Ten commish Kevin Warren sits down with Gumbel to discuss the biggest TV deal by any conference in college sports history and — maybe? — paying the athletes who are bringing in literally billions.

WED 24

White Sox at Orioles (6:05 p.m., NBCSCH, FS1)

In all fairness to Lucas Giolito, he gave up only seven of the 21 runs the Astros scored the last time he started. Look, we’re searching for positives here.

THU 25

Packers at Chiefs (7 p.m., NFLN)

Is there a quarterback in the house? Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes take another shot at proving all the doubters wrong.

FRI 26

Cubs at Brewers (7:10 p.m., Marquee)

Which of these teams is in rebuild mode again? The Cubs are 9-7 against the Brew Crew this season.

SAT 27

Northwestern vs. Nebraska (11:30 a.m., Fox-32)

Both teams were 3-9 last season, but the Wildcats lost to the Huskers by an appalling score of 56-7. Fearless forecast: a much tighter battle across the pond in Dublin.

Wyoming at Illinois (3 p.m., BTN)

Season 2 under Bret Bielema begins with a better-not-lose game for the Illini, who haven’t been all that successful through the years in the better-not-lose department. Are better days finally coming?

Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks

Let’s keep this guy in one piece, Bears, OK?

Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Bears at Browns (6 p.m., Fox-32)

Not to tell coach Matt Eberflus how to do his job, but we recommend a game plan that involves Justin Fields walking upright and under his own power to the plane for the flight home.

Montreal at Fire (7 p.m., Ch. 9)

The Fire might not be a match for one of the league’s strongest teams, but the Soldier Field turf fears no opponent. Be careful out there, gents.

SUN 28

PGA Tour Championship final round (12:30 p.m., Ch. 5)

The winner of this year’s FedEx Cup playoffs will bank $18 million. Other than that, it’s no big deal at East Lake in Atlanta.

Diamondbacks at White Sox (1:10 p.m., NBCSCH)

Hey, look, it’s another game the Sox just plain have to win. They’re all like that, are they not?

Little League World Series final (2 p.m., Ch. 7)

The U.S. champs take on the international champs, and this much is guaranteed: the timeless, beautiful sight of youngsters dancing on the field when it’s over.

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