Jim Thome hits 610th home run, passes Sammy Sosa on all-time list

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Jim Thome just keeps mashing those taters.

Thome connected for a solo home run off Derek Lowe in the top of the fourth inning this evening against the Indians.

It was Thome’s first home run as a member of the Orioles and the 610th home run of his career, passing Sammy Sosa for sole possession of seventh place on the all-time list. Just icing on the cake, it happened in Cleveland, where he began his career and amassed 337 of those home runs over parts of 13 seasons.

Thome, who turns 42 next month, has six home runs this season. The future Hall of Famer is now staring up at Ken Griffey, Jr., who ranks sixth all-time with 630 home runs.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.