Sunday, September 16, 2012
On this day in 2007, Jim Thome hit his 500th home run.
It was the last game of a home stand. The strain was starting to wear on the fans, waiting for the inevitable blast. Questions and scenarios ran rampant among everyone. Would Jim hit the milestone at home? If so, when?
Things looked bleak on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It was Jim Thome bobblehead day and the Sox were facing the tough Los Angeles Angels. Entering the bottom of the seventh, Jim Thome had one more chance to hit the milestone. The Sox were down 7-1 and Thome was seven batters away. An improbable comeback started to mount. Danny Richar and Andy Gonzalez hit singles. Richar scored on Toby Hall's single. Hall was forced out by Jerry Owens' grounder. Owens stole second base shortly after and scored with Gonzalez on Josh Fields' home run. Jim Thome struck out, followed by a Paul Konerko double and Jermaine Dye lineout. It seemed that Thome's chances of hitting the milestone at home had vanished. The Sox scored four runs, but were still short two runs with time dwindling down.
Juan Uribe walked to lead off the eighth. The next batter, Danny Richar, homered to tie the game. This set up another possible chance for Thome. He would be up in five batters. If the Sox continued on this torrid path, Jim would be up in the eighth. If one of the next three batters hit a solo home run and the rest got outs, then Thome would have to accomplish his historic homer on the road. The next three batters, Gonzalez, A.J. Pierzynski and Owens, all made outs.
MacDougal faced four batters in the top of the ninth, giving up a single, which was erased by a double play, and a walk, but got out of the half inning unscathed. The bottom of the ninth started with a right field single by Darin Erstad off of Angels reliever Dustin Moseley, who just came into the game, replacing Scot Shields. Thome stepped up to the plate and hit a home run to deep center field. No one could have scripted it better. Jim hit his milestone, in front of the home crowd. It was the first 500th home run to be a walk-off and also the first to be hit on that player's own bobblehead day.