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Dodgers vs. Cardinals series preview

Tío Albert and the Cardinals head to Dodger Stadium for a three-game series that could prove historic.

MLB: Home Run Derby Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Pujols has 698 career home runs — but don’t call it a chase for 700.

“I’m not chasing anything, buddy,” Pujols said during a dugout press conference in San Diego on Wednesday, according to Tom Goldman of NPR. “I just never chased numbers, and I accomplished so much.”

So, whatever this journey is, it passes through Dodger Stadium along with the rest of the St. Louis Cardinals this weekend. Everyone’s favorite tío is two homers away from becoming only the fourth major leaguer to hit 700 in his career.

If he can’t do it in St. Louis, Dodger Stadium feels like an apt second choice, writes Mike DiGiovanna at the Los Angeles Times. This is where Pujols seemed to revive both his career and his love for the game after the Angels released him, and the difference was noticeable.

“I know things didn’t turn out the way he wanted with the Angels, but when he got here, he was happy,” said Dodgers third-base coach Dino Ebel, who also worked with Pujols in Anaheim. “He fit right in, and I think it just made a difference in Albert and the way he’s ending his career now.”

The rest of the Cards are slowly coming out of a slump. The team has won five of its last 10 games and leads the NL Central by 7 12 games, but its recent losses include three consecutive shutout losses. Lars Nootbaar and Brendan Donovan helped lift spirits and scores yesterday with two big homers — Donovan’s was a grand slam that led to a Cardinals win.

As for the Dodgers, they’re coming off a strange series against the Arizona Diamondbacks that included a doubleheader and two comeback wins. They’ll head into the Cardinals series with a 6-and-4 record in their last 10 games and a race between Freddie Freeman and the Cards’s Paul Goldschmidt for this season’s batting title.

The Dodgers have also activated Brusdar Graterol from the injured list after missing three weeks with right elbow inflammation. He’s the latest to return of pitchers still on the IL, which include Tony Gonsolin, David Price, Victor González, Yency Almonte, and Blake Treinen, who still has a ways to go in recovering from shoulder tightness.

Dodgers vs. Cardinals Pitching Matchups

Friday: Andrew Heaney vs. Jose Quintana

7:10 p.m., Apple TV+

Saturday: Clayton Kershaw vs. Jordan Montgomery

6:10 p.m., SportsNet LA

Sunday: Tyler Anderson vs. Adam Wainwright

1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA