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Twins give kudos to Thomas for No. 500

Twins give kudos to Thomas

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a milestone home run on the line, many pitchers might be thinking about the impact of every pitch they throw to a particular hitter.

But for Twins starter Carlos Silva, history was the last thing on his mind when Frank Thomas stepped to the plate in the first inning on Thursday.

Even though it was well known that Thomas was sitting one home run away from his 500th career long ball, Silva said he had other thoughts on his mind -- like not walking the designated hitter to load the bases with only one out in the inning.

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"To be honest with you, I didn't pay attention to if he hit 500," Silva said. "I just tried to make my pitches and to have a good game. That's what I tried to do. I didn't want to walk him."

Silva certainly didn't walk Thomas. Instead, the Blue Jays' lumbering DH delivered a 1-2 slider deep into the left-field seats, belting the pitch 396 feet to mark the career milestone. With a mile-wide smile on his face, Thomas pumped his fist as he ran the bases and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 31,038 at the Metrodome.

Welcome to the history books, Mr. Silva.

"What can I say?" Silva said with a smile. "He got 500. I'm happy for him, and happy right now, because we won the game. There's really nothing I can say. It's a homer. He hit 500, but it's only one to me, you know?"

Actually, two of those 500 career homers have now come off Silva, but the team seemed more interested in the big one Thomas hit on Thursday.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had been asked all week what his reaction would be if Thomas were to reach the milestone during the series. Gardenhire said it seemed unlikely that Thomas would last four games without hitting a home run. After all, coming into the series, 49 of Thomas' home runs had come against the Twins. It was the most against any club he has faced in his career.

For Gardenhire to see Thomas come through in a big situation on Thursday was no surprise.


"Frank finally hit his," Gardenhire said with a smile. "We just couldn't get him out of town before he did."

The Twins skipper said he hoped the milestone would come with the Twins leading, 8-0, so he could enjoy the moment. And though the home run instead put the Twins in an early 4-0 hole, Gardenhire admitted that he couldn't help but be in awe of the history the club witnessed.

Thomas wasn't the only player to put on a home run display in the game. Twins center fielder Torii Hunter deposited two of his own, in consecutive at-bats, during the club's 8-5 comeback victory.

But when asked how his day ranked against Thomas' career day, Hunter had nothing but kudos for the man known as the Big Hurt.

"You can't upstage a 500th home run," Hunter said. "I have so much respect for Frank Thomas. I just want to tell him congratulations, because that's hard to do. Not many guys will do that. I mean, I'll be glad if I get to 300."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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