The newest Jay doubled twice that night, but almost as impressive was him beating out a first-inning, double play ball.
“He plays aggressively, never takes a play off,” Jays manager John Farrell told reporters of Thames. “Usually a hard-hit ground ball to second is a double play.”
Thames beat out the throw to first (“on those bang-bang plays they can call you out, but I thought I had it beat,” he said), Jose Bautista doubled, then Adam Lind bounced out and Aaron Hill singled giving the Jays a 2-0 lead.
In a span of five hitters against former Cleveland Indians right-hander Jake Westbrook, the Jays had equalled their total scoring output from their previous 27 innings played against the Atlanta Braves.
“Eric beating out the double play ball gave the dugout a chance to take a breath,” Farrell said. “Hey we’re up 2-0.”
Busch Stadium was much different for the Jays than when they visited the Braves at Turner Field.
At least as different as Thames' second visit to the majors compared to his first back in May.
“I’d never been to St. Louis before, but I knew what to expect,” said Thames, who was on the bench Saturday night against Cards lefty Jamie Garcia. “The first time up I was so nervous, I couldn’t focus. This time I knew what to expect.”
When Thames was recalled to replace an injured Adam Lind, he struck out against Tampa Bay Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson in his first at-bat.
“I swung at the first pitch and was a mile late, he painted the corner for strike two and then he threw a change up for strike three ... looking. I had a little chuckle going back to the dugout ... ‘Welcome to the big leagues.’ ”
His next time up against Hellickson, Thames contributed a run-scoring single.
That night, he received about 80 text messages from former minor league teammates Darin Mastroianni, Callix Crabbe, the manager and coaches at triple-A Las Vegas and double-A New Hampshire, plus ex-college teammates.
The strangest texts he received, from those he had not heard from in a long time?
“Ex-girlfriends, ‘Oh hi, how ya doing?’ ” said Thames.
Did he hear from Pamela Anderson?
“No, she’s probably forgot about me, moved on,” said Thames jokingly.
Playing for the Pepperdine University Green Wave in Malibu, Calif., Thames attended a team barbecue at Anderson’s house in 2007.
Thames said Anderson adopted Pepperdine as her home team to root for since her children attend baseball clinics at the school.
Anderson’s sons, Brandon Thomas Lee and Dylan Jagger Lee, were once Pepperdine bat boys at Eddy D. Field Stadium, a park with a view of palm trees and the Pacific Ocean.
He told us last year at double-A New Hampshire how Anderson would always arrive dressed in white and “we’d watch the other team, everyone in their dugout would looking at her, it didn’t matter what was going on the field, they could have been turning double plays.”
During the third inning Friday, Thames pulled a fastball down the right field line that went just foul. Two pitches later smashed a changeup to the wall in centre for a double. Two innings later he doubled again.
All in all, it was a second and more enjoyable welcome to the big leagues for Thames.