Pujols lined a ball up the middle that struck Padres pitcher Chris Young in the face, sending Young immediately to the ground and knocking the right-hander out of the game. Young was diagnosed with a broken and lacerated nose, which is surely an awful thing to sustain but frankly something of a relief. The Cardinals saw teammate Juan Encarnacion take major damage to his eye on a foul ball last year.
"It could have been worse," said Pujols, who had already called to check on Young when he spoke with reporters after the game. "It could have been right in the eye or somewhere else. Hopefully, he's OK. I'm definitely going to have him in my prayers. It's a pretty tough night, man. After that I couldn't concentrate on all my other at-bats. I just kind of flashed back thinking about a lot of that. It's something that you don't want to happen to anybody."
As soon as Pujols got to first base, he called time and went to check on Young. He then stopped to pray for Young with Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Young went to a hospital, but the Padres did not know much action he would miss.
"It bothers you, because you don't want to hit somebody and mess with somebody's career," Pujols said. "It's the same as a pitcher throwing to you in the head, or a ball coming at your head. You don't want anything to happen like that. It can pretty much ruin your career.
"Look at that foul ball that hit Encarnacion last year. He's pretty close to being done with his career. It's pretty tough. Hopefully with Chris that's not the case. I think it was a broken nose and hopefully he'll be OK."
Unfortunately, more was still to come. Two batters later, with Pujols standing on second base, Troy Glaus singled to right field. Pujols came around trying to score, and with Josh Bard blocking the plate, Pujols slid directly into Bard's foot. Bard suffered a sprained ankle and was removed from the game. It was a clean play, but nonetheless unpleasant. The Padres said Bard will go on the disabled list.
"How many times does that happen?" Pujols wondered. "In one inning, two guys get hurt by one player. It was a tough night. I'm excited we got the win, but I'm kind of bummed. Hopefully they don't lose Josh for a long time."
Pujols was clearly distracted as the game went on, going 0-for-3 in his next three at-bats. Manager Tony La Russa removed Pujols in the eighth inning, determining that his star could use the break.
"He was bothered," La Russa said. "That's why I ended up getting him out the last couple innings. The thing with Young definitely bothered him."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.