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Thomas reaches 500th HR, gets tossed in Blue Jays loss

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Thankfully for Frank Thomas, his family had to catch an early flight Thursday.

That meant his wife, three children and father-in-law got to see Thomas hit his 500th home run. And they were gone when Thomas got ejected.

"They had to leave for the airport at 1:45. My daughter said, 'Dad, you've got to do it in the first couple of at-bats,"' he said.

Thomas hit a three-run shot in the first inning of the Toronto Blue Jays' 8-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins, becoming the 21st major leaguer to reach 500.

But in the ninth, Thomas was ejected by plate umpire Mark Wegner after being called out on strikes for the second time in the game. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons came out to argue and also got tossed.

"I'm probably the first to get 500 home runs and get thrown out of the ballgame," Thomas said. "That's something I didn't want to happen, but the moment just got the best of me."

"I've still got hunger and desire. You saw that in the ninth inning," he said. "I still care. The game wasn't over in my opinion, and I was up there to battle."

Thomas also had an RBI double and tied his season high with four RBI.

Torii Hunter homered twice and Jason Bartlett also connected for Minnesota, which rallied from a 5-1 deficit.

"You can't upstage 500 home runs. It's hard to do. I'll be lucky if I hit 300," said Hunter, who has 181 career homers.

Carlos Silva (6-8), who gave up Thomas' milestone homer, was the winner and Joe Nathan finished for his 15th save. Jason Frasor (1-3) took the loss.

Thomas came up after Matt Stairs' RBI single in the first and sent Silva's 1-2 pitch an estimated 396 feet into the left-field stands.

Todd Eisenlohr, sitting in the fifth row and wearing a jersey of Twins player Jason Bartlett jersey, caught the ball in his glove.

"I lost it in the roof as it was coming down," Eisenlohr said. He said he traded the souvenir ball for an autographed ball, bat and jersey.

Thomas said he plans to keep the ball unless it is wanted by the Hall of Fame.

Before the at-bat, Thomas looked at the scoreboard and saw that his average with runners in scoring position was .182.

"I said, 'Let's just get a hit right here.' That's when home runs happen, when you're really not trying to do too much. He hung a slider over the corner and I stayed with the pitch," he said.

The Metrodome crowd responded with a standing ovation for the two-time AL MVP. Thomas put his head down for his home run trot and then pointed toward his family down the right-field line when he crossed the plate as Toronto players spilled out of the dugout to congratulate him.

Thomas hit his first career home run at the Metrodome against Gary Wayne while with the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 28, 1990. Thomas has 16 homers overall at the stadium.

Next on Thomas' ascent on the career home run list are Eddie Murray (504), Mel Ott (511) and Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews (512 each). Also within reach of 500 this year are Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez.

The 39-year-old Thomas shook his head in amazement when he thought about joining the likes of Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Harmon Killebrew in the 500 club.

"It's an unbelievable class of talent. I saw a lot of them play. I have the utmost respect, and I'm very happy to be here because it takes a long time to hit 500 home runs and I think I've paid my dues long enough through numerous injuries," he said.

"At one point, I didn't think I'd ever get here because of the ankle. I'd never be back on the field." he said.

The injured left ankle limited Thomas to 108 combined games in 2004 and 2005, leading to his exit from Chicago, where he played the first 16 years of his career.

Thomas is in his first season with the Blue Jays. He played last year in Oakland.

"Now that I'm healthy again I would love to get to 600. It'll take a lot of luck to get there, but I really got to have a strong second half and really prove that I can still play this game," he said.

He doesn't care that his milestone came in an era when skepticism surrounds some of the game's most prolific home run hitters.

"This means a lot to me because I did it the right way and I've busted my butt since college. I always worked hard in that weight room to be strong. I'm a big guy and I've been blessed with this talent," he said.

Thomas entered Thursday with four home runs in his previous 10 games. He has 13 this season. This was his second lifetime homer off Silva.

Thomas has hit 50 career homers against the Twins, his most against any team and the most by an active player against Minnesota. Rocky Colavito hit 52 against the Twins and Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson each hit 51.

AL MVP Justin Morneau returned to the Minnesota lineup after missing six games with a bruised lung. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI as a designated hitter.

Toronto's A.J. Burnett, pitching for the first time since leaving a June 12 start in San Francisco with a shoulder strain, gave up five runs and six hits in four-plus innings. He tossed his glove into the stands when he was removed.

"This loss is my fault," he said. "My teammates swung the bat and played great defense."

Notes

  • Hunter has eight two-homer games.
  • Bartlett twice stole second base and is 15-for-15 in attempts this year.
  • Jason Phillips had a passed ball in the sixth, the second straight game a Toronto catcher has allowed a passed ball.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Teammates celebrate with Frank Thomas, who blasts No. 500 off Twins pitcher Carlos Silva.  (AP)
Teammates celebrate with Frank Thomas, who blasts No. 500 off Twins pitcher Carlos Silva. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

T. Hunter
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 3
Toronto

F. Thomas
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 4
 
Toronto Blue Jays
Alex Rios, RF4110021 .288
Howie Clark, 3B4000001 .308
Vernon Wells, CF3210110 .251
Matt Stairs, 1B4121011 .292
Frank Thomas, DH4124021 .242
Aaron Hill, 2B4000012 .272
Adam Lind, LF3000110 .227
Jason Phillips, C3000001 .212
John McDonald, SS3000001 .285
Totals3256528  
Batting
2B - Frank Thomas (10, Silva)
HR - Frank Thomas (13, Silva)
RBI - Matt Stairs (29), Frank Thomas 4 (38)
2-OUT RBI - Frank Thomas (20)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
DP - Clark-Hill, Clark-Hill-Stairs
PB - Jason Phillips (2)
E - John McDonald (3, Throwing), Matt Stairs (4, Throwing)
Toronto Blue Jays
A.J. Burnett 4655062 4.31
Jason Frasor (L,1-3) 1122101 3.34
Jordan De Jong 3110210 6.14
HBP - Bartlett (by A.J. Burnett)
Pitches-Strikes - A.J. Burnett 75-48, Jason Frasor 20-9, Jordan De Jong 45-25
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - A.J. Burnett 3-4, Jason Frasor 3-0, Jordan De Jong 3-4
Batters Faced - A.J. Burnett 20, Jason Frasor 5, Jordan De Jong 11
Minnesota Twins
Jason Tyner, RF4231001 .291
Jason Bartlett, SS3221001 .258
Joe Mauer, C4001013 .303
Michael Cuddyer, 1B3111120 .290
Justin Morneau, DH3001122 .275
Torii Hunter, CF4223003 .306
Jason Kubel, LF4000010 .248
Luis Rodriguez, 3B4100000 .169
Nick Punto, 2B3000111 .215
Totals3288837  
Batting
HR - Jason Bartlett (2, Burnett), Torii Hunter 2 (17, Burnett, Frasor)
RBI - Jason Tyner (14), Jason Bartlett (20), Joe Mauer (26), Michael Cuddyer (46), Justin Morneau (58), Torii Hunter 3 (62)
2-OUT RBI - Torii Hunter 2 (31)
SB - Jason Bartlett 2 (15, 2nd base off Frasor/Phillips, 2nd base off De Jong/Phillips), Luis Rodriguez (1, 2nd base off De Jong/Phillips)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Rodriguez-Punto-Cuddyer
Minnesota Twins
Carlos Silva (W,6-8) 7655251 4.15
Juan Rincon (H,8) 1000010 4.08
Joe Nathan (S,15) 1000020 2.36
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Silva 104-65, Juan Rincon 14-8, Joe Nathan 14-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Silva 6-9, Juan Rincon 2-0
Batters Faced - Carlos Silva 28, Juan Rincon 3, Joe Nathan 3
Game Information
Attendance - 31038
Game Time - 2:35
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Bruce Froemming, Second Base - Mike Winters, Third Base - Brian Runge