Los Angeles Angels' Kevin Pillar singles on a line drive...

Los Angeles Angels' Kevin Pillar singles on a line drive to center field scoring Jo Adell and Zach Neto during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, May 19, 2024. Credit: AP/LM Otero

ARLINGTON, Texas — Kevin Pillar tucked a keepsake ball into his bag from his 1,000th career hit that meant even more to him than just putting the Los Angeles Angels ahead to stay in a series-clinching victory over the reigning World Series champions.

While Pillar is a California native, his parents just retired to Texas last December and were at the ballpark for Sunday's game, even when their son wasn't starting against the Rangers.

“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 a 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 Pillar has only been with the young Los Angeles team for about three weeks. It is the ninth big league team over 12 seasons for the outfielder, who signed on April 30, the same day the Angels put three-time AL MVP Mike Trout on the injured list because of a torn meniscus in his left knee that required surgery.

Pillar's wife ands kids were back home in Arizona on Sunday, but he had already shared a moment on the phone with them.

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

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

Los Angeles Angels' Kevin Pillar (12) steals third base against...

Los Angeles Angels' Kevin Pillar (12) steals third base against Texas Rangers third base Josh Smith (8) during the third inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Friday, May 17, 2024. Credit: AP/LM Otero

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

Los Angeles had just tied the game at 1-all and the bases were 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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