Jim Thome has been in Jose Bautista’s shoes. Not literally, though, since I’m pretty sure Big Jim wouldn’t be able to squeeze into those particular cleats.
I’m talking about joining the 50 Home Run Club.
Back in 2002, Thome launched 52 home runs for the Cleveland Indians. Now, the veteran slugger is a designated hitter for the Twins with 589 career blasts on his resume.
On Thursday night, Thome got a close-up look at the spectacle that has been Bautista’s season this year. Bautista become just the second person to send a pitch to the third deck at Target Field as part of a two-homer outburst that gave him a big league-high 54 for the Blue Jays.
“He’s had a wonderful year,” Thome said. “I think when you have a year like that, a lot of things go right. We call that as a hitter, a magical year. When you get pitches to hit, you hit them out front and get lift on him. It’s an awesome thing to watch — not against us — but just to see how his year has played out, just the whole story. He’s had a great year.”
What does it take to hit 50 home runs?
“You have to be healthy and you have to catch breaks,” Thome said, “where some years you hit a ball out front and it might be a double, and certain years you hit a ball out front and you get lift on it. And, you get in that groove where a lot of balls that you do hit out in front of the plate, you do get lift on them and they go out of the park.
“There are some years where you’ll go, ‘Maybe I just didn’t square a ball up as good and not like another year.’ I think that’s the thing. You hope every player goes through that year where you go, ‘Man this worked out great.’ Maybe that’s his year this year.”
Some more Bautista facts:
–His 9 multi-homer games matches franchise record (George Bell, ’87) for one year
–That’s the most since Boston’s David Ortiz had 9 multi-homer games in 2005
–He has five five-RBI games this year, setting a franchise record
–One walk away from being 14th member of 50 HR/100 BB club
–One walk from being 7th with 50 HR/100 BB/30 2B in one season
–Aiming to be 1st player since ’97 (Ken Griffey Jr.) to lead MLB in HRs in 4 months.
And here’s your lineups…
TORONTO AT MINNESOTA
at 7:10 p.m. CT, Target Field
BLUE JAYS (83-76)
1. Travis Snider, LF
2. Yunel Escobar, SS
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Aaron Hill, 2B
7. Adam Lind, DH
8. John Buck, C
9. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
Pitching: Ricky Romero (13-9, 3.79)
Pitching: Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.83)