DETROIT -- It was only fitting that Jim Thome became the eighth member of the 600 home run club with two key game-changing blasts against the Tigers on Monday at Comerica Park.
Thome, who has more homers against the Tigers than any other club, put the Twins on his back one more time, reaching the historic milestone with two homers and five RBIs that helped the Twins to a much-needed 9-6 win over the first-place Tigers.
Both homers proved to be crucial, as his first homer -- a two-run shot off right-hander Rick Porcello -- gave the Twins a 5-3 lead in the sixth, and his second -- a three-run blast coming against left-hander Daniel Schlereth in the seventh -- provided some cushion with a 9-5 lead.
"We talk about that a lot, winning the ballgame," Thome said. "Trying to do everything you can to try to win the ballgame that day. If you do something in the ballgame that day to help us win, that's what it's about. To hit two home runs and to win, it's very special. To celebrate with those guys, it's really, really cool. I think it's what the Minnesota Twins are about. Celebrating a 'W', giving guys the chance to really embrace what they've done in the game."
So while Thome tried to downplay his big night and defer the credit for the win in a postgame speech in the locker room after his club's victory, his manager and his teammates couldn't help but gush about how great of a player and a person he is.
"For us, it makes it extra special, and for Jim also," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's a guy who has done a lot for a lot of different teams, and obviously for us, and has won us some ballgames. So we kind of expect that out of him, and he didn't let us down."
Thome was also able to celebrate his amazing milestone with his teammates and his family, as he was greeted at home plate by family members such as his father, Chuck, his wife, Andrea, and his children, Lila and Landon.
"As a teammate, it doesn't get much better than that," outfield Jason Kubel said. "It's cool to be a part of it, and cool to watch it. He's accomplished so much, and we're all real excited and happy for him. It's awesome."
So it was simply fitting that Thome's 48th career multi-homer game not only helped him reach the historic 600 home run plateau, but also helped the Twins to a much-needed victory, as it was just their second win over their last 10 games.
The home runs came after Delmon Young, who was traded to Detroit just hours before the game, made the most of his fresh start against his former team, hitting a solo home run in the first inning off ex-teammate Francisco Liriano.
"That's what you get when you get behind in the count," said Liriano, who allowed five runs on nine hits over six innings. "[The trade] was a big surprise to me. I didn't know about the trade until I got here today. So facing him was funny and a surprise too, but it is what it is."
But the Twins struck back with three runs in the third, capitalizing on a pair of errors from third baseman Wilson Betemit and second baseman Ryan Raburn. Ben Revere plated a run with a groundout before Trevor Plouffe and Justin Morneau added RBI doubles.
The Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the frame, however, as Victor Martinez hit a two-run shot off Liriano for his seventh blast of the season.
Minnesota later added three runs in the sixth to retake the lead, as Thome blasted his first homer on a first-pitch fastball from Porcello. He deposited it into left-center field, displaying his opposite-field power.
"He's always been a good hitter going to the opposite field," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "I'm sure the majority of his home runs are to left-center and left field. Six hundred is a lot of home runs, pretty unbelievable."
Revere also nearly had his first career inside-the-park homer, but was instead left with an RBI triple as he was tagged out at the plate by Avila despite a collision.
The Tigers came back with two runs in bottom of the sixth, as Avila hit an RBI triple and scored on a sacrifice fly.
But Thome came to the rescue yet again in the seventh, with a three-run homer off Schlereth that sailed into the bullpen beyond the left-field fence. It also sailed over Young, who tried to rob Thome of No. 600.
"I was hoping it was a little bit shorter so I could try to get a glove on it and everything, try to keep him at 599," Young said. "But it was a good thing for him and baseball and his family and the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians and every team he's played for. It's a good day for Jim Thome and the Minnesota Twins."
Gardenhire, however, was happy that his former outfielder didn't rob his designated hitter of his historic tater.
"I thought he crushed it," Gardenhire said. "If Delmon would've caught that one, I might've gone out there and personally kicked his butt."
Thome received a standing ovation from the crowd at Comerica Park, and was able to celebrate with his teammates and family as he returned to the dugout after circling the bases.
"To stop there and cherish that moment, you have the visiting park give you a standing ovation, it's really cool," Thome said. "Throughout the years, there's been a little bit of heckling here, through the years, and for good. It's all for the good. To watch them stand up and cheer was very, very special. Something I'll never forget."
Raburn added a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn't enough given Thome's big night at the plate.
"It's an unbelievable night, obviously," Thome said. "I think it's something you never dream of doing. You dream about it, but when it finally happens, it's kind of surreal. It's a neat thing, it really is."