05/11/2003 8:37 PM ET
Elder earns dubious spot in history
ARLINGTON -- Indians right-hander David Elder knew as soon as he released the pitch that he was in trouble.
By Ken Sins / Special to MLB.com
Elder threw a 3-2 fastball high and over the plate with two on in the seventh, and Rafael Palmeiro did what the Rangers slugger has done to such mistakes hundreds of times before.
Palmeiro connected with his that perfect, cookie-cutter swing that is his trademark. The ball found the sweet spot of the bat, and sailed into the right field seats at The Ballpark in Arlington for his 500th career homer.
That linked Elder forever with Palmeiro in baseball lore.
"I tried to get a fastball in, but didn't get it in far enough," Elder said. "He has 500 reasons why pitchers shouldn't make mistakes. That's not what I wanted to happen. It was my job to get him out and I didn't do it."
Catcher Tim Laker called for an inside pitch, but Elder couldn't put it there.
"It wasn't inside enough, not for a guy that good," Laker said. "The spot has to be a little better than that, not up in the zone where he could get it up in the air."
One pitch before Palmeiro's homer, Elder thought he had a possible strikeout. But Palmeiro managed to foul off the low pitch.
"He's tough to strike out," Elder said. "He got a piece of it. I made the pitch where I wanted it. He just got enough of it. He waited for me to make my mistake and I did. It's not what I wanted to happen, but that's baseball."
Elder was in the Rangers organization for five years before he was traded to the Indians for John Rocker in December of 2001. Elder was around Palmeiro in Spring Training, and he admired the classy way the slugger conducted himself.
"He's a great guy, a great ballplayer," Elder said. "I spoke with him a little bit. When you hit 500 home runs, that says it all right there. He's had a great career. It's just unfortunate that I gave (No. 500) up."
Elder, who's ERA soared to 19.29, now becomes the answer to a trivia question.
"I try not to think about that," he said. "I came in with runners at first and second, tried to get out of that inning without giving up any more runs and I didn't do my job. I wasn't thinking about 500 homers. I was just thinking about, `Get him out.'"
Ken Sins is a contributor to MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.