MINNEAPOLIS — This three-game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins is likely Jim Thome’s last go-round at Target Field, the site of some of his mammoth home runs over the past few years.
Thome added one more to the list Wednesday.
In the fourth inning of the Phillies’ 9-8 win, Thome took Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak deep for a two-run homer to center field. The ball not only cleared the fence in straightaway center, but it also cleared the 36-foot-tall batter’s eye.
Thome did the same thing last season, clearing the batter’s eye with an equally epic shot. Wednesday’s blast was a reminder that, even at 41 years old and in the twilight of his career, Thome can still hit a baseball as far as anyone.
“It’s special,” Thome said. “Any time you clear the batter’s eye, it’s always very special, no doubt.”
Making it more special was the reception Thome received from Twins fans — aside from the fan that threw the home run ball back onto the field. As Thome rounded the bases following career home run No. 606, nearly every fan at Target Field stood and applauded the former Twins slugger.
During the first two games of the series, it seemed as if Minnesota fans were wanting to witness one more Thome moon shot — although they were hoping it came in a Twins win. They got half of their wish Wednesday, as Thome’s blast was key in the Phillies’ one-run victory.
Still, Twins fans couldn’t help but stand and cheer.
“It was very nice, very nice,” Thome said of the standing ovation. “I think everybody knows my history here with the Twins. To do it was great.”
The Twins estimated Thome’s homer to center Wednesday at 466 feet, which makes it the third-longest home run hit at Target Field in the park’s three-year history. The only two homers that traveled farther than Wednesday’s bomb were hit by, of course, Thome. He tagged one 490 feet on July 17 of last season and another 480 feet on Sept. 6, 2010. Thome also hit a homer that measured 465 feet last season, meaning he owns the four longest homers at Target Field, and six of the eight longest.
“It’s cool. It’s pretty cool,” Thome said. “They all rank very special. To come back and again to do that in the place you played and have them give you a standing ovation, it means a lot. It is very special.”
Added Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: “As Reggie Jackson said, that’s the deep water. Only a few boys can go in the deep water, and he went in the deep water. … I like Reggie’s statement. That’s a man that hit that ball.”
Thome was asked after the game if he’d thought much about how Thursday night’s game would likely be his last at Target Field, a place where he had many special memories during his two-year tenure with the Twins. At 41, he’s nearing the end of an illustrious career.
If this series was indeed Thome’s last at Target Field, he capped it in classic Thome fashion with one last towering homer Wednesday.
“We’ll see what happens,” Thome said. “Crazy things happen.”