Hill sets club mark for homers at second
With 18th dinger of '09, he breaks Alomar's Jays record
TORONTO -- In the opening inning of Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Phillies, Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill drilled a home run off the left-field foul pole and into the team's history books.
Hill hit his 18th home run of the year on Sunday at Rogers Centre, breaking the club record for homers in a season by a second baseman. The record was set by Roberto Alomar, a Blue Jays legend who played a significant role in the team's back-to-back World Series victories in 1992-93 and is expected by many observers to be the first player inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in a Blue Jays cap.
It didn't take long for Hill to improve his record-breaking tally, adding another home run in the third inning.
The first blast came on an 0-1 pitch from Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer in Hill's first at-bat of the game. Moyer left a 70-mph curveball over the plate, which Hill put over the wall to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.
In his next at-bat, Hill jumped on the first pitch he saw from Moyer, ripping a changeup off the second deck at Rogers Centre.
The day was bittersweet for Hill, as his two home runs were not enough in a one-run loss.
"You don't want to lose that game right there," Hill said. "It's obviously great, but it wasn't really what I was shooting for. You want to win the ballgame."
Although the Jays lost, it did put an exclamation point on the excellent season Hill has enjoyed. The 27-year-old is hitting .305 with 19 home runs and 56 RBIs, leading American League second basemen in all of those categories.
Alomar set the Jays record with 17 home runs in 1993, when he was named an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and finished sixth in MVP voting. Hill equaled that mark in 2007, hitting his 17th home run on Sept. 25.
This year, he hit his 17th home run on June 25.
While Hill enjoyed a breakout season in 2007, many wondered how he would perform this year after missing most of '08 with a concussion.
"Just being able to get back in uniform after last year, it was nice to be on the field again with the guys," Hill said. "That's really the one thing you take out of it. Don't take games for granted, how easily something can be taken away."
Jays manager Cito Gaston was happy to see Hill get the record, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding the second baseman's health after taking an elbow to the head from former Jays shortstop David Eckstein on May 29, 2008. As the symptoms of Hill's concussion lingered, he was shut down for the year.
"There were times there where we really didn't know if he was going to be able to come back and play," Gaston said. "No one knew that, but it's nice to see him come back and certainly have the year that he's having. Some kind of way, he's got to get on that All-Star team."
With three months still to go in the season, Hill seems poised to leave Alomar's record far behind. But Hill isn't ready to be mentioned in the same breath as Alomar.
"Two World Series -- start right there," Hill said of Alomar. "Name the All-Star Games, name the Gold Gloves. The guy hit .300 how many times? You have to play a long time to compete with him, and you've got to win the World Series.
"Two World Series rings. Bottom line. Let's start by making the playoffs. We'll start from there."
Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.