February 2, 2023

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Longoria keeps memento from Pujols showdown

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This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado’s Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Evan Longoria admitted that he was a bit nervous when he stepped into the box to face Albert Pujols in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 15-6 blowout loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Sunday night.

“I knew the stadium was going to be electric at that point,” Longoria said. “I was probably more nervous than I would have been had it just been a normal pitcher. Just because of the fact that you should expect to get a hit off a position player — a guy basically throwing [batting practice] to you. It’s almost like a serious letdown if you don’t.”

Longoria figured he’d take a couple of pitches to gauge the speed, though the 42-year-old Pujols quickly got ahead, 0-2, by lobbing two 54 mph offerings in there for strikes.

“The second pitch that I took for a strike, it was almost like facing a knuckleballer where it’s coming in so high that you don’t think that it could drop that much late,” Longoria said. “It ended up being a strike. And he threw two strikes in a row, too. All of a sudden, I’m like 0-2, so I was like, ‘Alright, well, I guess I’m going to have to swing at some point.’”

Longoria ended up sending the third pitch of the at-bat to left field for a single, and to everyone’s delight, promptly asked to keep the ball. A smiling Pujols complied, tossing the ball to the Giants’ dugout for safekeeping. The future Hall of Famer ended up surrendering a pair of home runs to Luis González and Joey Bart, though he still managed to seal the win for the Cardinals.

“I think it was obviously a pretty cool moment for the fans and for baseball in general,” Longoria said. “It was cool to experience it instead of just watching it on TV. I’m sure everybody watching it on TV was wishing that they were there. I did keep the ball. It’s definitely something that I’ll remember. Even if it doesn’t amount to anything later on and nobody talks about it, it’ll be a great memory for me to have the ball and talk about it with my kids.”

While pitching in a game is something of a bucket-list item for many position players, Longoria said he personally has no interest in following in Pujols’ footsteps and taking the mound in the Majors someday.

“I don’t have any desire to,” Longoria said. “I know [Brandon Crawford] does. Craw has mentioned it multiple times. I just feel like I would never get out of the inning. I just feel like I’d be standing out there, and I’m sure the feeling when you’re a pitcher and you either can’t throw a strike or you can’t get an out is one of the most naked feelings on a baseball field. I just feel like that’s what I would feel like out there.”

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