Kevin Pillar’s Milestone Moment: 1,000th Career Hit Leads Angels to Victory

Kevin Pillar's Milestone Moment: 1,000th Career Hit Leads Angels to Victory

Kevin Pillar tucked a keepsake ball into his bag from his 1,000th career hit, a milestone that meant more than just securing a series-clinching victory over the reigning World Series champions for the Los Angeles Angels.

Though Pillar is a California native, his parents, who retired to Texas last December, were present at the ballpark for Sunday’s game against the Rangers, despite him not starting.

“Baseball’s poetic in a way that I’m here in Texas, my family lives here. My parents are here in attendance,” Pillar said after his pinch-hit two-run single in the seventh inning of the 4-1 victory. “I told them I wasn’t in the starting lineup. They still wanted to be here for me to get an opportunity, and to come up in that situation with them here, it means the world to me.”

The 35-year-old outfielder has been with the Angels for only about three weeks, marking his ninth big league team over 12 seasons. He signed with the Angels on April 30, the same day the team placed three-time AL MVP Mike Trout on the injured list due to a torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery.

Although Pillar’s wife and kids were back home in Arizona, he had already shared a moment with them over the phone.

“They’re pretty pumped right now. They’re pretty excited,” he said. “It’s cool to hear your kids say they’re proud.”

Pillar is hitting .447 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 12 games for the Angels. He started the season with the Chicago White Sox, who released and re-signed him during spring training, only to designate him for assignment after he hit .160 with one homer and four RBIs in 17 games.

“He just brings a veteran leadership and just a grinder mentality, and just a whole lot of wisdom and stuff that young guys can learn from,” said Angels center fielder Mickey Moniak.

The game was tied 1-all with the bases loaded when Pillar pinch-hit for No. 9 batter Kyren Paris. Pillar lined a single to center, then scored on a triple by Luis Rengifo.

“He’s a pro, he’s always ready,” first-year Angels manager Ron Washington said. “He did what he’s been doing for us all year, coming through. He came through, and it’s big. I’m so happy to have him on this team.”

It was Pillar’s 21st hit this season, his 17th with the Angels.

“I keep coming back year after year. There were things that personally I wanted to accomplish,” Pillar said. “Getting 10 years of service time was one of them. I knew I was a couple stolen bases away from 100. I knew I was 20-some odd hits away from 1,000. …. You know, get sent home, get released, picked up by a new team and just be able to do it that quickly and them just believing in me, giving me opportunities to go out there and play and prove that I can still play this game at a high level.”

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Pooja Chauhan

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