Jim Thome hit his first home run 20 years ago as a young rookie third baseman with the Cleveland Indians. On Monday night, Thome, now a designated hitter for the Minnesota Twins, slugged his 600th homer to become just the eighth major league player to reach the exclusive club.
Going into the game at Detroit, Thome needed just two home runs to get to 600. He hit No. 599 in the sixth inning. Then in the seventh, he hit No. 600 in the seventh off left-handed reliever Daniel Schlereth, a three-run shot over the left field fence in a 9-6 win over the Tigers.
It was his 48th multi-homer game.
“Hitting home runs can be very difficult,” Thome said. “You sit in bed at night and think about how’s it going to be, how are you going to do this?
“It goes back to trying to slow yourself down and not being too antsy, too hyped up. When I got the first one tonight, though, I knew it was going to come quick. It’s just a great night.”
Thome’s 600th was only his 11th this season, far off his career average of 28.6 per season. But at 40, and in his 21st year, time and injuries have taken a toll. However, Thome still has a swing that is prodigious enough to make pitchers sweat.
The crowd at Comerica Park showed Thome respect with a standing ovation. Twins players rushed out of the dugout to greet Thome at home plate. Thome’s father Chuck, wife Andrea and children Lila and Landon were on the field to celebrate too.
A future Hall-of-Famer, all-around nice guy and someone who has shown great respect for the game, Thome deserved all of the attention.
StatsWatch: Jim Thome became the eighth player to hit 600 home runs this week. Here’s the list, with totals of active players through Monday:
- Barry Bonds, 762
- Hank Aaron, 755
- Babe Ruth, 714
- Willie Mays, 660
- Ken Griffey Jr., 630
- Alex Rodriguez, 626
- Sammy Sosa, 609
- Jim Thome, 600
Triple the fun: The Milwaukee Brewers turned the first triple play in the National League this season in their 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night.
After the Dodgers Matt Kemp walked and Juan Rivera singled to put runners on first and second in the second inning at Milwaukee, the Brewers infield went to work.
On a ground ball hit by James Loney, second baseman Josh Wilson flipped the ball from his glove to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who stepped on second and threw to first for two outs.
First baseman Prince Fielder then threw home to catcher George Kottaras, who tagged a sliding Kemp, who was attempting to score.
“You never really plan on those things happening,” Kottaras said. It was really amazing.”
It was Milwaukee’s sixth triple play in history and first in nearly two years.
Zambrano DQ’d: Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano has been placed on the disqualified list by the club after he cleaned out his locker and said he was retiring following a rough outing at Atlanta last week.
Zambrano, who is no stranger to emotional outbursts and controversy, allowed five home runs and was ejected for throwing at Chipper Jones in a 10-4 loss last Friday.
“I’m really disappointed,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said after the game. “His locker is empty. I don’t know where he’s at. He walked out on 24 guys that are battling their ass off for him. I don’t know where he’s gone or what he’s doing. I heard he has retired, or talking about retiring.
“I can’t have a guy walking out on 24 guys, that’s for damn sure.”
Zambrano reappeared this week, saying that he hasn’t retired. But the Cubs appear to have finally had enough of their volatile pitcher. The Cubs placed Zambrano on the 30-day disqualified list without pay for leaving the team.
“This was the most stringent penalty that our club could inflict without a release,” Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. “There’s not much worse than running out on your teammates in the middle of a ballgame.”
Zambrano’s other antics have included taunting an umpire, getting into a dugout fight with catcher Michael Barrett and engaging in a shouting match with Derrek Lee.
In June, Zambrano called the Cubs “embarrassing,” and a “Triple-A team.”
Zambrano likely won’t pitch for the Cubs again. But he’s owed nearly $23 million, $18 million next year.
Copyright © 2011 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.