September 23, 2010

Two Days...Three Milestones

Prior to last season, I suggested, like the bonehead that I am, that then-Houston Astro Miguel Tejada had 300 career home runs in his sites.

The guy entered 2009 with 271 and honestly, that's not that off base, right?

Now, did I think that he would send 29 over the wall? Maybe. I mean, the six time All-Star had a decent run between 2000 and 20004 where he hit 30 or more homers in four of those five years.

Of course, he was with Oakland and played alongside the Brothers Giambi. While I'm not suggesting Tejada was doing anything, ahem, shady...he did quiet down some and fall back to Earth pretty quickly.

Okay...all that aside, I made a similar prediction a year later when he re-signed with Baltimore.

Among the only milestones worth mentioning…newly re-acquired Miguel Tejada enters 2010 with 285 home runs. And with back-to-back seasons with 13 and 14 home runs…it remains to be seen if the 2002 American League MVP can get his old stroke back.

Well, last night...it happened.

With one on in the third inning Wednesday night, the, now, San Diego Padre (are you keeping up with this?) sent a Ted Lilly pitch deep to become the 22nd active player to reach 300 home runs.

Now...I lead with all that nonsense to bring you to this.

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista became one of the unlikliest players to reach 50 homers in a season when he went yard Thursday afternoon in a 1-0 victory against the Seattle Mariners.

"To tell you the truth, I really haven't let it sink in yet," Bautista said following the game. "Right now, I'm just really honored and happy."

Last week, Bautista tied George Bell's former franchise high of 47 home runs with a blast on the road in Baltimore. One game later, he claimed the club record for himself in Boston.

With his dinger today, he became just the 42nd player to reach the half-century mark and with a week and a half to go...he looks to add to it.

"September of last year, you could kind of see what he was capable of doing," said teammate Vernon Wells, referring to the 10 home runs Bautista hit over the final month a year ago. "You don't expect a guy to come out and hit 50 home runs in pretty much his first full season as a starter, but obviously he has that type of potential and that type of power."

One guy that is seemingly always approaching one milestone or another is Ichiro Suzuki. And in the same game that Bautista his home run number 50...Ichiro wrote another chapter in his own history book.

For the tenth straight year, Ichiro has reached 200 hits.

The nine time All-Star entered the game against Toronto with a 198 hits. He picked up number 199 with a third-inning double and extended his own streak with a single in the fifth.

"I think you can imagine how happy I am," Ichiro told reporters after the game through a translator. "I know how tough it is to accomplish 200 hits every season, and it's been another tough one this year, so that's how happy I am inside."

To illustrate how spectacular the feat is, consider this...baseball's hit king Pete Rose is the only other guy to notch ten season with 200 or more hits.

His accomplishment, however, was spread over 24 seasons. Ichiro has done it in ten.

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