San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds has one more chance to become baseball’s all-time home run king before his team heads out on the road.
Bonds looks to match - or pass - Hank Aaron’s career home run record Sunday when the Giants go for a three-game sweep of the slumping Florida Marlins.
Bonds is one homer shy of Aaron’s record after connecting for No. 754 on Friday. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in Saturday’s 4-3 win, striking out once and popping up twice.
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said before the game that Bonds’ teammates are excited about Bonds’ pursuit of the record.
“You can see it. You can feel it down here in the dugout—excitement, electricity,” Bochy said. “You look up and all the focus is on Barry’s at-bat. No question all the guys down here feel it. It’s history.”
Despite going hitless, Bonds—who is jeered mercilessly on the road— received a typically warm reception from his home fans. After an off day Monday, the Giants (45-57) head out on a six-game trip against division rivals Los Angeles and San Diego.
Bonds has hit a number of historic homers in front of his home fans, including Nos. 500, 600 and 700, 660 and 661 to tie and pass his godfather, Hall of Famer Willie Mays, and 715 last May to pass Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. He has said that he doesn’t care where he breaks the record, but it is clear he holds San Francisco fans in high regard.
“This city is great. The fans are fantastic,” he told the Giants’ official team Web site after hitting No. 754. “I don’t know how to say thank you enough to them. Not only for myself, but for the organization.”
Bonds ended Saturday’s game on deck as Ray Durham singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Giants, who have won four straight, have not swept the Marlins in three games at home since Aug. 14-16, 2001.
“It’s about the team,” Bonds said, making his way out of the clubhouse.
The Marlins (48-57) have dropped six straight, matching their season high set April 15-20. They haven’t lost seven in a row since May 15-21 last season.
Sergio Mitre (4-5, 3.34 ERA) will take the mound for Florida in the finale. He has never faced Bonds, but said coming into the series that he wouldn’t be too upset if he gives up the record-breaking shot.
“It’s just a home run,” he told the Marlins’ site. “But it means my name will be in the record books. It means that makes me famous.”
Mitre owns the best ERA among Florida’s starters, but was roughed up for a season-high seven runs in just three innings of Tuesday’s 9-3 loss in Arizona. Except for an injury-shortened outing on April 17, when he recorded just one out, the start was his shortest of the season.
His only previous appearance against the Giants came on July 25, 2005 while with the Chicago Cubs, when he threw one scoreless inning without getting a decision in the Cubs’ 3-2 win.
San Francisco will counter with Matt Morris (7-6, 4.16), who is 0-3 with a 7.98 ERA in seven starts since a 4-3 win over Toronto on June 11. He gave up four runs in six innings of the Giants’ 7-5, 13-inning loss to Atlanta on Tuesday.
“He’s throwing the ball well, just one inning seems to be doing him in,” Bochy told the Giants’ site.
Morris is 7-4 with a 4.23 ERA in 13 career appearances - 10 starts - against the Marlins.