Yanks brace for challenge of hot-hitting Pujols

Yanks brace for challenge of hot-hitting Pujols

Yanks brace for challenge of hot-hitting Pujols
ANAHEIM -- A larger-than-life poster of Albert Pujols hangs prominently outside the front entrance of Angel Stadium, glaring upon all who approach the turnstiles. Lately, he hasn't seemed much less imposing to American League pitchers.

The Yankees arrived in Anaheim on Monday bracing for the challenge of attacking the slugger, who had homered in four of his last six games, and Pujols' hot streak did not catch any of them off guard.

"I really don't watch a lot of baseball outside of what we do, but it's no surprise," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "I'm sure people made a big deal out of it, but if anyone thinks Albert Pujols is going to stay down for long, they're crazy."

Pujols has hit .288 with six homers and 17 RBIs over his last 17 games after beginning the year with a .190 average, one homer and nine RBIs in his first 30 games.

"It's surprising anytime you see someone of that caliber go through something like that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You can think about it and say, you know what, he's changing leagues, there's huge expectations, it's a different environment, there's a lot of different things.

"And maybe that had something to do with it. But you know eventually that it was going to end, and it seems, unfortunately, that it has ended, because we're here."

Andy Pettitte, who will start on Tuesday, has enjoyed some success against Pujols. Pettitte has held him to just six singles in 28 at-bats, a .214 average.

"He's a guy that's going to hurt you if you make a mistake," Pettitte said. "Whether he's slumping or not, I would treat him the exact same way: You just know he's a great hitter. Make pitches and don't let him hurt you too much."