ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Sammy Sosa's 600th home run resembled so many that came before -- except this time the Chicago Cubs were on the other side.
Playing for the Texas Rangers after a year out of baseball, Sosa became the fifth member of the 600-homer club Wednesday night when he connected against his former team.
After driving a 1-and-2 pitch to right-center for a solo shot in the fifth inning of Texas' 7-3 victory, Sosa bounced out of the batter's box with his trademark hop and thrust his right fist into the air before reaching first base. He was mobbed at home plate by his teammates while the scoreboard showed pictures of all five members of the elite club: Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sosa.
"It was something that cannot be explained," Sosa said. "Getting my 600th against the Chicago Cubs, and my first team ([as] the Texas Rangers. It's like everything clicked. My emotions, I don't know what they are."
Sosa played for the Cubs from 1992 to 2004, winning the 1998 NL most-valuable-player award and making seven All-Star teams while hitting 545 homers with Chicago.
No. 600 came off Jason Marquis (5-4), the 364th pitcher the 38-year-old Sosa has homered off in his 18 major league seasons.
"It was a cutter I left up in the zone," Marquis said. "I went away from my strength and he made me pay for it. Other than the fact that it cost us the game, it doesn't really matter."
It was Sosa's 12th home run in 62 games this season since signing a minor league deal and making the roster in spring training with Texas, the franchise that gave him his start. He hit his first big league home run with the Rangers in 1989.
Sosa also has homered against every major league team in his career.
After going into the dugout with his teammates, Sosa came out for a curtain call. He blew kisses to the crowd and acknowledged the Cubs' dugout by pounding his chest with his fist, and Chicago Manager Lou Piniella pointed back toward the slugger. Sosa had never faced the Cubs before the series opener Tuesday.
A countdown banner that has hung in right field for about a month was flipped from 599 to 600 -- and a new banner was unfurled in center field congratulating Sosa for joining the 600-homer club.
Chants of "Sam-my! Sam-my!" prompted a second curtain call.
"It was a good moment. He should be proud of it," Piniella said. "I wish he would have done it in a losing effort but it's a tremendous feat and he should enjoy the moment."
Sosa's 600th home run was only his second in 22 games -- a span of 83 at-bats in which his only other homer was a grand slam Friday at Cincinnati.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Sammy Sosa joined Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays in the 600-home-run club. Sosa is behind Bonds among active players:
*--* All-time leaders: Hank Aaron 755 Barry Bonds 748 Babe Ruth 714 Willie Mays 660 Sammy Sosa 600 Frank Robinson 586 Mark McGwire 583 Ken Griffey Jr. 582 Harmon Killebrew 573 Rafael Palmeiro 569 Reggie Jackson 563 Mike Schmidt 548 Mickey Mantle 536 Jimmie Foxx 534 Willie McCovey 521 Ted Williams 521 Ernie Banks 512 Eddie Mathews 512 Mel Ott 511 Eddie Murray 504
*--* Active leaders: Barry Bonds 748 Sammy Sosa 600 Ken Griffey Jr. 582 Frank Thomas 497 Alex Rodriguez 491 Manny Ramirez 481 Jim Thome 480 Gary Sheffield 472 Mike Piazza 420 Carlos Delgado 417 Chipper Jones 369 Jason Giambi 357 Jim Edmonds 357 Jeff Kent 354 Andruw Jones 353 Vladimir Guerrero 350 Luis Gonzalez 339 Shawn Green 323 Moises Alou 321 Reggie Sanders 305
Source: Associated Press
Los Angeles Times