Thome hits 600th home runMinnesota slugger Jim Thome become the eighth player to hit 600 home runs, connecting twice against the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.
By: By Noah Trister, AP Sports Writer, Superior Telegram
DETROIT (AP) — Minnesota slugger Jim Thome become the eighth player to hit 600 home runs, connecting twice against the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.
The 40-year-old Thome hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning for No. 599, then added a three-run shot in the seventh. The milestone came on a 2-1 pitch from Daniel Schlereth.
Both homers were hit to the opposite field. When No. 600 cleared the fence in left, Thome raised his right fist as he went around first base, and the crowd in Detroit came to its feet to applaud him.
Thome became the second-fastest hitter to reach the milestone, hitting his 600th homer in at-bat No. 8,137. Babe Ruth needed only 6,921 at-bats.
His 65 home runs against Detroit are his most against any team.
The Tigers posted a congratulatory message on the scoreboard after Thome's homer, and the Twins came out to greet him at home plate.
Fighting injuries during a frustrating season in Minnesota, Thome hasn't received nearly the amount of national publicity that his predecessors who reached the milestone did. Even Derek Jeter's accomplishment of 3,000 hits earlier this season dwarfed the attention Thome has been getting for a chase that's far more rare.
Only seven hitters have hit more home runs than the bulky Thome: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa. Rodriguez joined the 600-homer club last August.
It was perhaps fitting that Thome reached No. 600 in a matchup of AL Central rivals. He hit 334 home runs with Cleveland and 134 with the Chicago White Sox.
Thome is the oldest person to hit his 600th homer. Sosa previously held that mark at 38 years, 220 days. He reached the milestone in 2007.
Since signing with the Twins before last season, Thome has been a popular figure at Target Field — both in the clubhouse and for the paying customers in the seats. He hit 25 home runs last season in just 276 at-bats, many of them moon shots that sailed high into the Minneapolis air and caused players, coaches, fans and everyone else to shake their head in amusement and astonishment.
This season has been more of a struggle. He's been bothered by injuries to his toe, oblique and quadriceps. His milestone homer was only his 11th of the year in his 185th at-bat. But when healthy, he's still as capable as anyone of putting a powerful swing on the ball.
Rodriguez needed two weeks to hit No. 600 after reaching 599 last year. Thome waited one inning.
After a lineout and a single in his first two at-bats, Thome lifted a drive to left-center off Rick Porcello in the sixth, breaking a 3-all tie. That homer went an estimated 412 feet. His 600th was shorter. For a moment, it appeared Detroit left fielder Delmon Young might have a chance to make a play on the ball, but Young — who was traded from the Twins to the Tigers earlier in the day — could only watch as his former teammate's hit sailed into the Detroit bullpen.
Before Monday's game, Thome hadn't homered since Aug. 4. Thome has hit at least 20 homers in 17 of his last 18 seasons — the only exception was 2005 when he hit seven in only 59 games for the Philadelphia Phillies.
He revived his career with the White Sox after that, homering 42 times in 2006.