Mackey: Ozzie shrugs as Thome, all smiles, sticks it to old 'mates
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MINNEAPOLIS -- As it turns out, Brett Favre wasn't the only 40-year-old making headlines in Minnesota on Tuesday.
Jim Thome -- technically still 39 for another week and a half -- hit a 445-foot, walk-off moonshot deep into the night in the 10th inning to give the Twins a dramatic 7-6 victory over his former team, the White Sox.
"That's exciting, you know. It is," Thome said, still sporting bloodshot eyes and patches of shaving cream from the on-field celebration following his 12th-career walk-off blast.
"I haven't had shaving cream in a long time, actually. I can't say it felt good, but it felt good for the situation."
The 12 walk-offs, by the way, tie Thome for the major-league record with Jimmy Foxx, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson and Stan Musial.
With the victory, the Twins improved to 69-50 on the season, and 9-4 against the White Sox, who have now fallen four games behind Minnesota in the division.
Thome, who openly expressed his desire to return to the White Sox this past offseason, is now hitting .273/.391/.593 with 17 home runs this season. Coincidentally, Chicago's best left-handed regular is Juan Pierre (.268/.341/.310).
Or is it Mark Teahen (.255/.333/.403)?
Well, at least we know it's not Jim Thome anymore.
"I mean, that's... Jim Thome's a home run hitter, he's a very, very, very strong man," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He's been doing that for a lot of years. If Span hits that home run that inning, then I will be crying. But Jim Thome hits it, you go shower and get it tomorrow."
Tuesday's game featured a little bit of everything, which isn't unexpected between two teams with such a rich, intense rivalry.
Great defense, with Jason Kubel and Delmon Young each making fantastic plays in the outfield early in the game, and with Michael Cuddyer scooping a double play ball out of the dirt to end the ninth without the go-ahead run scoring.
Clutch hitting, with Alexei Ramirez tying the game with a homer in the ninth, then putting the Sox ahead with a single in the 10th, and Thome's game-winning blast to answer.
Chippiness, with J.J. Hardy getting buzzed up high by a Sergio Santos fastball, and Young -- who said, "I was so hosed, I couldn't slide" -- delivering a blow to the head of A.J. Pierzynski at home plate.
And drama, with one of the game's best lefties, Matt Thornton, facing a former teammate and one of the best power hitters of all-time.
"I will take that match-up again," Guillen said, referring to how Thorton has held lefties to a .163/.200/.238 batting line this season. "Maybe Thome hits another home run, I guess. Thome, what, he has 600 home runs?"
Close. It's actually 581.
And Thome will thoroughly enjoy it.
"That never gets old," he said. "Anytime you're able to get a big hit in a big situation, you cherish it, you understand baseball, and you move on. Tomorrow's a new day, but for a little bit here you cherish that moment."
Meanwhile, Ozzie will just... Well... He'll do whatever Ozzie does.
"Have a couple drinks and come back tomorrow and fight."