Jim Thome said after seeing Carlos Villanueva throw him change-ups and curveballs in his first at-bat, he was waiting on a change-up in the fifth inning. He got one and didn’t miss it, homering on the first pitch to tie the game 2-2.
It touched off a run of three homers that inning and three more in the game for a final tally of seven to tie the O’s club record in the 12-2 win over Toronto. The Orioles broke out on offense big time tonight.
“It was big,” Thome said. “Especially the way we played last night and we came out and our crowd was energetic. Up and down the lineup, everyone swung the bat well. Watching them for the last month and a half, it is fun to join in and be a part of it.
“Home runs are very unique. When you do what we did tonight is something to be proud of. It’s something that just doesn’t happen a whole lot in the game.”
“You try to have good at-bats. Not playing for a while the last couple of nights I’m starting to get a feel a bit. Hopefully that set the stage for what we did. Hitting is contagious,” Thome said.
Was it important for the Orioles to win tonight to match the Yankees win from this afternoon?
“The key is not to worry,” Thome said. “Ultimately, you have to control what you can control. It will always be that way. It’s a learning experience for everybody, a vet or a young guy. To go through this is something in the long run everyone will take from it.”
How did he feel about being part of an inning that saw himself at 42 and Machado at just 20, both hit homers?
“You had to bring that up, didn’t you? You get the youth and the old veteran, I guess. The unique thing about our club is that all the guys we brought up at a certain point during the year have stepped up and played a big part. That is big. You can’t be the hero every night and when you get guys that step up like we did tonight, hopefully we will ride that momentum out,” Thome said.
Thome and Machado are the first pair of players in AL history and third in major league history to homer in the same inning with an age difference of 20 years. The other pairs were Julio Franco and Kelly Johnson of Atlanta in 2005 and Orlando Cepeda and Hank Sauer of the San Francisco Giants in 1958.
“That’s crazy,” Machado said of that 22-year ago difference. “That’s a pretty good stat. I remember I use to watch (Thome) play when I was a little kid. Now to have hit a home run in the same inning he did feels great.
“We had a big game and had some big swings. We set a record, feels good. It was a big win for us, especially going into the off day.”
Machado said Thome’s homer kind of jump-started everything.
“That was huge. We’re down and he comes up with a big hit for us. He sets the tone for us just by how he responds. Tonight we made some good swings, we weren’t looking for home runs. We still have to keep fighting. This isn’t going to be an easy road. Every inning, every pitch is a big one,” Machado said.
Meanwhile Miguel Gonzalez gave the Orioles another strong outing. On a night they scored 12 runs, 10 of them came after he had pitched through the fifth inning, so most of his night was spent locked in a pitchers’ duel and he gave up just two runs over seven innings.
What allows Gonzalez to have such poise out there?
“Just mentally being strong. Think the guys motivate me everytime I go out there. Making pitches is the most important thing,” he said after he recorded his third straight quality start and improved to 8-4 with an ERA of 3.45.