Jim Thome hadn’t hit a homer in his first 11 games with the Orioles.
He finally did it in the fourth inning Friday night in Cleveland. The Orioles were already up by six runs, so it was a pretty meaningless bomb.
But when you are 41, have played 22 years and have been as daunting of a slugger as Thome has over his career, no homer is meaningless anymore.
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Thome’s 418-foot shot – off the 39-year-old Derek Lowe – was the 610th of his career. That put him in sole possession of seventh all-time on the home run list, breaking a tie with former Oriole Sammy Sosa.
The fact that it came in Cleveland, where Thome has spent roughly half of his career, added to the allure.
Of course, the aw-shucks Thome didn’t bite too much on the line of questioning.
“I'm most happy about winning the game,” said Thome, who gave up a bat and two signed baseballs in return for the souvenir home run ball. “The key was getting the lead against Lowe. He's a guy that once he gets settled can be very good.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter had no problem praising his new DH.
“There’s nothing Jimmy doesn’t do that I don’t say, ‘Man, you’re pretty lucky to watch this.’ I am honored to have him pass my way. They don’t come like him too often," Showalter said. "Having the great fortune to have him on our club now, I have always admired him so much from afar. Just the way he goes about business and the way he treats teammates and treats the game. He sets such a great example for all of our players. Seeing him walk is an honor. … The game is going to miss him when he is not around anymore, I can tell you that.”