He’s also been instrumental in helping the Minnesota Twins move closer to a second straight AL Central title.
Thome and the Twins go for their 13th victory in 16 games in Sunday’s series finale against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Thome entered this past week 10th on the all-time home run list, but has climbed into eighth place by hitting five homers in his last four games. His 587th, moving him past Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, was a 12th-inning shot Saturday to give the Twins (84-58) a 1-0 victory. The win was Minnesota’s 12th in 15 games and allowed the Twins to reclaim a six-game lead over Chicago in the Central.
“Anytime you can pick up games in September is great,” said Thome, who returned to the lineup after missing two games because of a mild abdominal strain.
The 20-year veteran is batting .278 with 23 homers, 53 RBIs and a .407 on-base percentage in 97 games, and is a key reason why Minnesota maintains a comfortable lead over the White Sox despite missing slugger Justin Morneau(notes) for two months with a concussion. Minnesota is 17-4 when Thome homers.
“He’s a Hall of Famer who gives us a huge presence,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Slowey made his first start for the Twins since injuring his right triceps Aug. 21 in Monday’s 5-4 win over Kansas City. The right-hander allowed two runs and seven hits - six singles - while throwing 77 pitches in four innings.
“There were times when I felt like I was convicted, and I made some good pitches and executed pitches well,” he told the Twins’ official website. “There were other times that I didn’t.”
Slowey, who was 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his final four starts before the injury, is 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five starts against Cleveland since the start of last season. He’s made three starts versus the Indians in 2010, going 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA.
Talbot allowed one unearned run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings of last Saturday’s 4-2 win over Seattle, his first victory since June 27. It was an encouraging outing for the right-hander, who had been 0-2 with a 7.78 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled list with a back strain.
“It was nice to see Talbot come back and have a good outing,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He’s been struggling a little bit since he came back from the DL and tonight he was very good. Threw a lot of first pitch strikes.”
Talbot pitched well in his only career start against the Twins, yielding one unearned run and two hits in six innings of an 8-1 victory April 22.