Thomas now on the other side

Having played 15 seasons at U.S. Cellular Field (Old Comiskey Park) during his time with the White Sox, Frank Thomas must still feel a little weird not going to the home clubhouse. Thomas enjoyed some spectacular seasons as a member of the White Sox, including the 1993 campaign, in which he won the first of back-to-back American League MVP awards. The ‘Big Hurt’ — in his third full season with Chicago — posted a .317 batting average, 41 home runs and 128 RBIs that year to help lead the White Sox to their second-ever AL West Division title. 1993 also marked the only time during his 16-year career with the Sox that Thomas advanced to the ALCS.

And who were their opponents that year? The Toronto Blue Jays, of course. Coming off their first-ever World Series title a year before, the Blue Jays posted a 95-67 record in ’93 to capture the AL East once again and return to the postseason for the fifth time in franchise history. Going into the series, Toronto knew that in order to beat the Sox, they would have to keep Frank Thomas from beating them. In Game 1 it became evident that the Blue Jays did not want to give Thomas anything to hit, as the mammoth slugger recorded four walks to go along with a single during Toronto’s 7-3 victory.

Frank_thomas_white_soxThomas went 2-for-3 with a walk in Game 2, but the Blue Jays came away with another win, this time by a 3-1 margin. Despite having reached base eight times in nine plate appearances over the first two games, Thomas had not hurt the Blue Jays, who headed home with a 2-0 series lead. The White Sox would come away with a 6-1 victory in Game 3 at SkyDome, with the ‘Big Hurt’ going 1-for-3 with a pair of walks, a run scored and an RBI. He posted those same numbers in Game 4, including a game-tying homer off Todd Stottlemyre to help lead Chicago to a series-evening 7-4 win.

Perhaps the key to Game 5 for Toronto was the fact that they managed to hold Thomas completely in check. Juan Guzman struck out the big man twice, and Duane Ward fanned him in the ninth, as the Jays went on to win 5-3 and take a 3-2 series lead. Back in Chicago, Dave Stewart tossed 7.1 innings of two-run ball — one run coming on a HBP to Thomas — to improve his ALCS record to a remarkable 8-0 and, more importantly, send the Blue Jays to their second straight World Series. Overall, Toronto did, in fact, keep the AL MVP in check, allowing Thomas just one homer and three RBIs for the series. For his part, the ‘Big Hurt’ certainly took what the Jays gave him. Thanks to 12 walks, he managed to post an obscene .593 on-base percentage. However, the Blue Jays were able to shut down the rest of his teammates when it counted. Overall, Thomas — who reached base 18 times — ended up scoring just twice.

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