Frank Thomas has had some big games and even bigger accomplishments during his 18-year Major League career, and he's not done yet. He created a scrapbook night by hitting three home runs in a game for just the second time.
Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox were his victims on both occasions. Thomas hit three homers off Wakefield in a 1996 game and hit his first two off Wakefield on Monday night before hitting his third against Kyle Snyder.
"It's one of those games you cherish," a beaming Thomas told the Toronto Star. "I don't take anything for granted any more."
The three dingers gave Thomas 512 for his career, moving him past Mel Ott into an 18th-place tie with Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews on the all-time career list. Thomas said he was honored to be equal to those two players.
"They were tremendous ballplayers in their time. I'm just happy to be in their company," Thomas said.
Jeter moves into fourth on Yankees' hit list: With a double into the right-field corner Monday night against Baltimore, New York Yankees shortstop moved into fourth place on the team's all-time hit list with 2,337, surpassing his friend and former teammate Bernie Williams. Jeter now trails only Lou Gehrig (2,721), Babe Ruth (2,518) and Mickey Mantle (2,415) on the Yankee list.
"I knew I was close," Jeter, who went 2-for-5 with a run, told the New York Daily News. "Anytime you talk about those names it's pretty special."
Jeter singled in the first inning to move into a tie with Williams. He then doubled to move past him.
Torre had nothing but praise when discussing Jeter.
"He's a special kid," Torre said. "I feel fortunate that I've been here the 12 years he's been here and every year it just sort of solidifies everything you saw in the first couple of years. He just gets better at what he does."
Brewers' Gallardo astounding in last four starts: Yovani Gallardo threw eight shutout innings against Houston Monday, moving his scoreless streak to 21 consecutive innings as the Brewers beat the Astros 6-0. Gallardo, now 9-4 with a 3.66 ERA, no longer raises eyebrows with each outstanding outing.
"We're past the surprise stage," manager Ned Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We're into the 'real confident every time he steps on the mound' phase."
In his last four starts, Gallardo is 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA. However, Gallardo did not know he was stringing together such an impressive shutout streak.
"I wasn't even aware of that," Gallardo said. "I just try to take it one hitter at a time."
Making the outing even more special for Gallardo was the fact that numerous friends and family were able to make the trip down to Houston from his hometown of Fort Worth. Despite the large contingent of fans, Gallardo pitched liked a seasoned veteran used to pitching in the middle of a pennant race.
Orioles' Walker not real big on appearance record: When Baltimore Orioles reliever Jamie Walker pitched in his 77th game of the year on Sunday, it not only kept him atop the American League in appearances but it also helped him to break the Orioles franchise record that had been held by B.J. Ryan (2003 and 2004) and Tippy Martinez (1982).
Walker, though, doesn't seem too enamored with records.
"It's not a big thing," he told the Baltimore Sun. "I'm not here for that. I'm here to throw the ball when the manager asks me, God willing, if I'm able. If I could throw 162 [games], I would, but that's not possible. I take pride in appearances -- toeing the hill, showing up and not calling in sick -- and there are times I've gone out there when I was way less than 100 percent. In my mind, I think I can beat anybody."
That high number of appearances is more than what manager Dave Trembley planned on, but Walker's efficiency in a lot of different roles brought it on.
"I would have loved to use him in the role that he came here for, and that was to be a situational pitcher, but because of our needs, he's done a little bit of everything," said Trembley. "Boy, he's been so valuable to us. I don't know what we would have done as far as finishing some games."
Buchholz gets a shot at history: The last time Clay Buchholz started a game for the Boston Red Sox, he threw a no-hitter against Baltimore. Tonight, more than two weeks later, he'll get another chance.
"I get to stay in the same rhythm as I was when I came up here as far as the routine I had," Buchholz told the Boston Herald. "It's been a little different being out in the bullpen. Going out for at least one more start will probably be better for me."
While 18 days between starts will have passed when Buchholz faces Toronto, he did pitch three scoreless innings of relief on Sept. 6 against the Orioles. Since then, he has thrown "five or six" side sessions.
"I've tried to stay as close to the routine as I could, being in the bullpen," he said. "I haven't been able to do all the stretching and running and stuff that I've been able to do before the game, so I think going back to that will be a lot better."
Weathers relishes the pressure of a closer: David Weathers isn't the type to put a lot of demands on his manager. That being said, it seems he'd sure like a shot at closing again in the future -- even if he won't bring it up himself.
"(But) I'd like to," Weathers told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "As the year went on, I learned to roll with it better. I learned what I had to do to be more successful than I've been in the past."
Weathers has done a fine job for the Reds this year, noting that the few blown saves he has been hit with don't make him any different than most other closers in the league.
"When I look around the league, even the top-notch guys have three, four, five blown saves," he said. "It's a hard job, a lot of pressure."
Pressure aside, Weathers likes the role he's in but will go with whatever the team decides.
"I think anybody wants to have one of the better roles," he said. "That's only human. What (the Reds) do with it, I have no idea. Whether they'll go out and get a more established guy, or bring Eddie (Guardado) back. I don't have any control on that.
"We'll see what happens. At least it gives them options."
Cantu getting his chances with Reds: Major League baseball players want to play -- that goes without saying. But for Jorge Cantu, who was at one time voted the MVP of the 2005 Devil Rays, just playing in a place like Cincinnati -- in any role -- works for him.
"I know it's my role, so I'm sticking to it," Cantu told the Cincinnati Post. "When it's time to play, it's time to play."
Since joining the Reds, Cantu has flirted with a .400 batting average. He knows it's not realistic to stay there, but is going to give it his all. "Hopefully I'll maintain the average. It's tough to maintain that rhythm when you're not playing every day, but you've got to change what you're doing," he said. "Even pinch hits, I've got to get it done."
And if he only pinch-hits, that's fine with him. Even if he does hope for more.
"It's easier to know that I'm going to play, regardless of the situation or the pitcher, I'll have the chance to play here," Cantu said.
Punto gets the good word from Gardenhire: If the Minnesota Twins are able to find themselves a third baseman for the 2008 season, manager Ron Gardenhire has made his preference for Nick Punto to play every day at second base.
"If we were to start right now, I would say Nick would have a head up on [Alexi Casilla], believe me there," Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I know what he can do, catch the ball, and make all the plays. So he's got a lead going into Spring Training, as far as I'm concerned.
"I hope [Punto] comes out and has a good spring. I like him in my lineup, somewhere. He makes things exciting. But he's got to play [well]. Got to come back and rebound, we all know that."
His manager's vote of confidence was music to Punto's ears. "For him to have the confidence in me, that means a lot, it really does," said Punto. "I'm going to work as hard as I ever have this offseason and come back and have a very successful season next year."
Pending a ring, Wells plans to be back: Despite being 44 years old and having already been released once this season, David Wells is thinking about playing next year -- unless the Dodgers come around and win the World Series.
"I think a ring would solidify everything," Wells told the Los Angeles Times. "I think it would be the only thing that could pull me away from the game. But that's a big favor to ask from the baseball gods. If it doesn't happen, maybe it's because they want me back."
Wells has already discussed retirement with his family and came to the realization that he still wants to pitch.
"You know what?" Wells said. "This game, it's my life. When you get it taken from you, you don't know what you're going to do."
Shoulder just fine as Ibanez cracks 100 RBIs: Shoulder problems earlier in the season contributed mightily to the struggles of Raul Ibanez. There were whispers he could be in jeopardy of losing his starting position. But the Mariners stuck with Ibanez, the shoulder improved and his grand slam Tuesday night pushed him over 100 RBIs for the season, a mark no one would have predicted back in May.
"I am proud of that part of it because it was tough there for a while," Ibanez told the Seattle Times of overcoming the shoulder problem. "It made it really difficult to extend through balls. There was a lot of cutting off of swings and not staying through balls.
"I knew it was going to be kind of a grind but I just focused at driving in runs when I had the opportunity."
Manager John McLaren met with Ibanez earlier in the season and told him not to press.
"I believe in Raul," McLaren said. "I could see it in his face that he was pressing and he was frustrated. Now we know his shoulder's strong again. It makes a difference when you have a strong shoulder."
Yankees' rookie Hughes not looking at calendar: Phil Hughes is a 21-year-old rookie for the New York Yankees. And he is also making a push to make sure he has a spot on the team's pitching staff should the team make the playoffs.
Hughes overcame a slow start against Baltimore Monday night to help lead the Yankees to an 8-5 victory. After allowing two runs on three hits in the first inning, Hughes (4-3, 4.75 ERA) shut down the Orioles the rest of his outing, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing those two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three.
"I try to take the perspective that it's just one pitch I have to make, and if I execute that pitch, it doesn't matter if it's April or September," Hughes, who seems oblivious to the time of year, told Newsday.
"There's no difference; they're still hitters trying to hit pitches you're trying to make. As long as you just break it down and keep things in perspective, time of year doesn't matter too much. Sometimes it's hard. On days in between, you see the magnitude that these games have. But once you get out there, you fall into a groove, you make pitches and you don't think about how many games back you are."
Delgado likely to return to lineup: Carlos Delgado has announced that he believes it will be a matter of days concerning his return to the team's lineup. Delgado has not played since Sept. 4 due to a strained hip flexor.
"I definitely think so," Delgado told the New York Daily News about returning to the lineup as soon as Thursday, when the Mets open a four-game series against Florida.
Delgado has hit in the batting cage but wants to participate in batting practice or a simulated game before playing. However, once back in the lineup, Delgado said the injury would be behind him.
"It's something I cannot baby," he said. "Either I swing or I don't swing."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.