Barry Bonds concedes the chase for the all-time home-run record has been a struggle.
08/06/2007 11:47 AM ET
One more to go for Barry
"This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through in my entire career," Bonds told the San Francisco Chronicle after hitting his record-tying 755th homer Saturday night. "It's a different feeling than any of the other ones. I really am lost for words at this moment."
But Bonds had no trouble finding words of reverence for the man whose record he is about to break.
"We as baseball players, especially as African-American ballplayers, have so much respect for Hank Aaron and all our other African American athletes as well," Bonds said. "They have paved the road to what we are doing now. No one at any time, shape, form will ever allow me to say anything different about Hank Aaron (than) what a great person he is and what a great athlete he is."
Bonds hit a 2-1 fastball to left field for the historic homer. Clay Hensley knew right away he had served up the record-tying pitch.
"I knew it was gone when he hit it," said Hensley, who sealed his place in baseball lore by giving up the homer.
The home run came after Bonds took early batting practice with hitting coach Joe Lefebvre. The duo was at the park four hours early so Bonds could get in his work without any distractions.
"Joe wanted me to get out there and work on the things I've done for so long in my career, for 22 years, and get out there and spend time doing it like I've always done it, then take yourself away, go relax, visualize the things we did and follow through with it into the game," Bonds said. "And it worked."
For his part, Hensley doesn't feel bad about challenging Bonds.
"I felt like I played the game the right way," Hensley told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "First and foremost, we're trying to win the game. I went after him and he got the pitch. I wasn't trying to pitch around him, and he hit the ball that was up."
Padres center fielder Mike Cameron said it was "special" to see Bonds tie Aaron.
"The guy has done a lot of good things," Cameron said.
A-Rod watches, then acted 'like a goofball': With one swing of the bat, Alex Rodriguez put himself into the record book by becoming the youngest player to reach 500 career home runs.
"I thought when I hit it initially, with the path of the ball, it definitely would go foul," Rodriguez told Newsday of his shot down the left-field line.
Rodriguez barely moved from home plate after hitting the ball as he and 54,000 fans wondered if it was going to stay fair or hook foul. Once it was clear the ball was fair, Rodriguez joyfully rounded the bases.
"I acted like a goofball running around the bases," he said, "but you only hit 500 once."
Rodriguez was hugged at home plate by teammates Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu and was then greeted in front of the dugout by the rest of the team.
"I was a little embarrassed. I felt like we were in high school. All the guys coming out to shake my hand in the first inning," he said.
Rodriguez is one of only 21 players to hit 500 home runs and he is the third Yankees player to accomplish the feat, joining Babe Ruth (Aug. 11, 1929, in Cleveland) and Mickey Mantle (May 14, 1967, vs. Baltimore at home).
"It means the world," Rodriguez said. "To do it at home and to wear this beautiful uniform that I appreciate and respect so much, it's special. New York's a special place. I've had my trials and tribulations here in New York. I've learned from them. A day like today kind of brings it full circle, and maybe there's a happy ending for me somewhere."
Rodriguez is also happy to reach 500 homers in front of the fans at Yankee Stadium.
"You wish you can go up there and shake every fan's hand and thank them," he said, "but my only way of thanking them is to hit the home run at home and do it in a winning situation. They wasted a lot of Kodak film on me this week. I'm just glad I was able to pay them back."
Glavine feels the relief of getting to 300: Tom Glavine capped a weekend of baseball milestones by picking up his 300th career victory Sunday night.
Like Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez before him, Glavine felt the relief of achieving something that had been anticipated for a long time.
"I was so happy to be getting this," Glavine told MLB.com. "It is a relief. At some point, I'm not sure when, the accomplishment part of it will take over. But right now, it's mostly relief."
As usual, Glavine did it all for his team. He shut down the Cubs for 6 1/3 innings, and even drove in the Mets' first run of the game.
"It was typical Tommy," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.
By the end of the night, even the Wrigley Field faithful were paying tribute to Glavine.
"I was very touched by that," Glavine said. "And by the way I was received by the Cubs fans. I think their applause was a show of respect. And we all want to be respected."
Chipper a Mets fan for a night: Chipper Jones found himself in the unusual position of rooting for the Mets Sunday night, hoping former teammate Tom Glavine would get his 300th win.
"He's the best left-hander I've ever seen," Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Most people will say Randy Johnson. But when Glav's got to get you out, he's going to get you out. You might get one mistake pitch to hit in four at-bats."
19-year-old Upton gets the call: Despite being in the middle of a division race, the Arizona Diamondbacks promoted 19-year-old Justin Upton from Double-A Mobile.
He went 0-for-1 Thursday night after entering the game in the eighth inning for defensive purposes. He then fouled out in the ninth inning.
Upton found himself in the starting lineup Friday night, hitting seventh and playing right field. He went 0-for-4. On Saturday, Upton collected his first two hits of his career, going 2-for-4 with a double and one run scored.
"It's what I've been dreaming about my whole entire life," Upton told the Arizona Republic. "It's amazing. I'm still overwhelmed."
Manager Bob Melvin said it "would be a stretch" for Upton to have been a September callup earlier this season. But Upton pounded Double-A pitching and made everyone believe he was ready for the big leagues.
"In the last 45 days, we've had a lot of people in Mobile seeing that team," general manager Josh Byrnes said, "and there was a pretty strong consensus that Justin is Major-League ready if we wanted to put him up here.
"He is as big-league ready as you can be at 19. For what he can do and what he can do at that age, you're talking about a very short list."
Isringhausen wants to stay a Cardinal: Just one year ago it looked like it might be all over for St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen. Thanks to an ailing hip missed the 2006 postseason and wondered for a time if his career might be over.
But as the 2007 season progresses, Isringhausen has quietly put together one of the best seasons of his career with 21 saves in 23 chances and an ERA of just 1.39. The Cardinals, who have had plenty go wrong this season, have not lost a game in which Isringhausen has taken the ball with the lead.
A native of Brighton, Ill., Isringhausen grew up watching the Cardinals and made it known at the trade deadline that he would not waive his no-trade protection and wanted to stay in St. Louis as long as possible.
"I don't want to uproot my family," Isringhausen told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "A lot of the public doesn't understand. They might have one job their whole life. There's a lot to it. It's not just my wife and kids. It's her parents and my parents. It would change everything for us. That's not what I'm looking for."
With an affordable club-option for 2008, it's a near-certainty that the Cardinals will bring Izzy back for 2008, and he is hopeful that he can extend that and finish his career in St. Louis.
"I'd like to get to 300 (saves)," he said. "That number means something to me. Not a lot of people have gotten there."
As of today, Isringhausen has 270 career saves, including 194 for the Cardinals -- the most in franchise history.
"It's much easier for my family with me in St. Louis. It makes it a lot more fun for them," he said. "There is something about playing for your hometown team. Ask anybody loving a team where they grew up and they'll tell you they would love to play there. I've been here six years now. I want to stay here."
Morris adds veteran leadership to Pirates: When the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired veteran Matt Morris last week from the San Francisco Giants, it definitely raised some eyebrows.
But despite seemingly out of the National League Central race, the Pirates simply wanted to add a veteran arm to help nurture their young pitching staff, and Morris fit that description perfectly.
On Saturday, he proved it.
By working a strong 6 1/3 innings in which he was efficient and a fast worker, Morris kept his defense on their toes and even managed to hit a home run.
"I was running as hard as I could," Morris told the Pittsburgh Post-GazettePittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I didn't know it was out."
As for his teammates, they played outstanding defense and almost seemed to put forth an extra effort for Morris.
"It was awesome, the enthusiasm these guys played with," said Morris. "I really had fun out there. It's been a while since I've enjoyed pitching like that."
When he exited the game with a lead in the seventh inning, the Pirates fans stood and gave a roaring ovation.
"It meant a lot," Morris said of the fans' applause. "And I'll tell you what: If we keep playing like that, on defense and getting the big hits, things are going to turn here."
Manager Jim Tracy was appreciative of Morris' effort.
"Matt Morris was terrific," said Tracy. "He had a real professional approach, a real efficiency, which is a great thing for some of our young kids in the rotation to see. I think he's going to be an asset for us in a lot of ways."
Zimmerman tears up the Cardinals: Ryan Zimmerman did not single-handedly sweep the Cardinals this weekend.
It just seemed that way.
Friday night he singled home the game-winning run in the ninth inning. Saturday he hit two home runs. And Sunday he broke a tie in the eighth inning with an RBI single off Ryan Franklin, the same pitcher against whom he delivered Friday's hit.
"He made a pretty good pitch," Zimmerman told the Washington Times. "It was down, and I hit it off the end of the bat, and I placed it in the right place."
Zimmerman ended Sunday with a three-hit game. He finished the Nationals' 6-0 homestand with a .519 average, going 14-for-27 with four doubles and two homers, and 11 RBIs.
"As a young kid, he's so doggone good, it's ridiculous," teammate Dmitri Young told the Washington Post. "Future greatness right there. That's all I can say about Ryan Zimmerman. He's a student of the game. He's got all kinds of talent."
-- Red Line Editorial