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10/03/06 7:03 PM ET
Thomas puts the Big Hurt on Twins
Veteran designated hitter blasts two homers in Game 1
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Frank Thomas hit a home run on Opening Day in his first at-bat with the Oakland Athletics. He hit one in his first at-bat on his return to Chicago against his former White Sox teammates. He even went deep on Frank Thomas Bobblehead Day and Frank Thomas Mask Day in Oakland. His flair for the dramatic continued on a Tuesday afternoon when the 38-year-old designated hitter became the oldest player in Major League history to hit two home runs in a postseason game. Thomas went deep not only in the second inning but in the ninth inning as well, two huge home runs that supported the pitching of Barry Zito and carried the Athletics to a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at the Metrodome. "I just came to play," Thomas said. "I've been locked in all year. I'm happy to be back, that hunger and drive is back. I'm just happy to be with a new team and new teammates and have a chance to do something special." Thomas' power allowed the A's to hand Twins starter Johan Santana his first loss at the Metrodome since the Athletics beat him on Aug. 1, 2005, 24 starts ago. "I don't know about a flair for the dramatic, I just think he's going out there and doing a job," Oakland first baseman Nick Swisher said. "He just wants to let people know all that talk about how he's been forgotten is a bunch of. ... He's been doing it all year. He has been doing it for 14 or 15 years." Thomas seemed forgotten because he had to sit on the side for most of last year with a fractured left foot and was only a spectator in the playoffs as the White Sox marched to a World Series title. The Athletics signed him over the winter to a one-year, $500,000 contract with $2.6 million in incentives, and he has been worth every coin, hitting .270 with 39 home runs and 114 RBIs. "Really, all 30 teams could have had him," Oakland manager Ken Macha said. "We signed him to a minimal contract and it's probably because people were scared of his physical conditioning. "We knew he hit 12 home runs last year in a little over 100 at-bats, and he can hit with power, but he has done a tremendous job rehabbing his foot. If you are going to win something, you better have that impact bat in the lineup, and that guy definitely provided it for us." He did so on Tuesday even though the Athletics first three hitters were a combined 1-for-12 and Thomas, batting in the cleanup spot, ended up leading off an inning in all four of his at-bats. That may have worked in his favor.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.