Slammin’ time

Frank Thomas made his 497th career homer count on Wednesday night, as the ‘Big Hurt’ slugged a second inning grand slam, helping propel the Blue Jays to a lopsided 12-1 win over the Dodgers. With the blast, Thomas is now seven home runs shy of Eddie Murray (504) for 20th on the all-time list (As an aside, Murray was relieved of his hitting coach duties by the Dodgers last week).
The slam by Thomas — his second of the season — marked the 101st in Blue Jays franchise history. Three of those were of the pinch-hit variety. Let’s take a look …
Jesse Barfield, April 24, 1982 vs. Boston
The first such occurrence came during Toronto’s sixth Major League campaign. Trailing 8-3 in the bottom half of the eighth inning, Bobby Cox sent Jesse Barfield up to pinch-hit for Lloyd Moseby. Barfield greeted Boston reliever Tom Burgmeier by hitting his first homer of the season — a grand slam — that plated Alfredo Griffin, Damaso Garcia and Rance Mulliniks to pull Toronto within one run, at 8-7. Unfortunately, the Jays were unable to score again, falling short for the fourth straight game.
Tony Fernandez, September 4, 2001 vs. New York
The next pinch-hit grand slam came 19 years later, courtesy of Tony Fernandez, who was closing out his fourth and final stint with the Blue Jays. Fernandez was a pinch-hitting specialist in 2001, finishing the season with a franchise-record 16 pinch hits. Though he was forced into several clutch situations that year, it was during perhaps the least clutch situation that Fernandez managed to hit a pinch-hit grand slam. The Blue Jays were up 9-0 against the Yankees on Sept. 4 at SkyDome when he was summoned to hit for designated hitter Shannon Stewart. With one out, Fernandez delivered a round-tripper off future Blue Jay Ted Lilly, scoring Cesar Izturis, Chris Latham and Alex Gonzalez in the process. Like Barfield, the slam marked Fernandez’s first home run of the season. Toronto would go on to win 14-0 against their AL East counterparts, with Chris Carpenter picking up the complete-game shutout victory.
Reed Johnson, July 1, 2005 at Boston
The third pinch-hit grand slam in Blue Jays franchise history occurred during another lopsided victory, this time against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Ahead 5-1 in the top of the sixth, John Gibbons tabbed Reed Johnson to hit for Frank Catalanotto after the Red Sox brought in left-hander Mike Myers. Johnson welcomed the new hurler with a home run, scoring Eric Hinske, Orlando Hudson and Russ Adams. The beneficiary of the Johnson’s blast was, ironically, Ted Lilly, who was now a member of the Blue Jays’ rotation. Lilly picked up the win, as Toronto cruised to a 15-2 victory.

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