On a night when the Twins honored the greatest slugger in team history, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Thome returned from the disabled list after missing three weeks with an oblique injury and hit the 592nd and 593rd homers of his career.
Throughout his 21 seasons Thome has homered once every 21 at-bats versus left-handed pitchers compared to once every 11 at-bats against right-handed pitchers, but both of last night’s bombs came versus southpaws.
Thome is now seven homers away from becoming the eighth player to join the 600-homer club and 16 homers away from tying Sammy Sosa for seventh on the all-time list with 609 long balls.
Moving up any further than that is likely out of the question, at least for this year, but Thome already ranks fourth all time among left-handed hitters behind only Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and Ken Griffey Jr.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.