Thome, who stands seventh on the all-time home run chart, had been out since the end of July with a herniated disk in his neck and said helping the team's playoff bid was his motivation in pushing through a long rehab process.
"This is what I think everybody dreams of, to put yourself in this opportunity to maybe go on to October and experience [it]," Thome said. "Even though you've been there, it never gets old."
Baltimore entered Friday a game behind the Yankees in the American League East and is currently holding one of the AL's two Wild Card slots with 13 games left on the schedule.
Acquired in a trade with the Phillies on June 30, Thome played in a pair of instructional league games earlier this week along with Patton, but the slugger has not appeared in a big league game since July 27.
"It's been about a week that I was probably able to pitch in the big leagues," said Patton, who went on the disabled list Aug. 14 with a right ankle sprain, "but [manager] Buck [Showalter] is very meticulous, as you all know, and he wanted to make sure I was ready to be part of what's going on."
Patton, 1-0 with a 2.58 ERA in 50 appearances this season, has not allowed an earned run in a career-best 18 consecutive outings, a streak that dates back to July 6.
While Patton's return was imminent, the Orioles were unsure what Thome's timetable would be like given the nature of his injury.
"I never doubted at all, because I never doubted my work ethic, and to go down and listen to what our plan was, everything comes from you: the desire, the work. You have to want it inside to get back," Thome said. "Every day I woke up, I kept telling myself, 'Keep going, keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel here.' It's been very rewarding to be here with these guys in the position that I am."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less