Major League Baseball
Griffey powers Mariners past Angels
Major League Baseball

Griffey powers Mariners past Angels

Published Apr. 16, 2009 8:27 a.m. ET

Ken Griffey Jr. returned triumphantly to the team on which he became a superstar. Ichiro Suzuki's delayed season debut was a grand smash.

What's next for these rollicking Mariners, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez homering their ways out of retirement?

"What a phenomenal day," Seattle rookie manager Don Wakamatsu said.

That was after Griffey hit career home run No. 613 and his 400th as a Mariner on Wednesday night in his second home game of his return season in Seattle, Suzuki tied the Japanese record for hits with his first grand slam in six years, and the surprising Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 11-3 for their sixth consecutive victory.

Griffey became the first player to hit 400 home runs with one team and 200 with another. Griffey hit 210 with Cincinnati from 2000 through the middle of last season, when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox.

Suzuki had two hits while returning from his first career stint on the disabled list because of a bleeding ulcer. His dramatic slam came when he golfed a full-count pitch from Jason Bulger into the right-field bleachers during a seven-run seventh inning. That tied Japanese League hero Isao Harimoto's record with hit No. 3,085.

"That's pretty much Ichiro — the greatest of Ichiro," the 68-year-old Harimoto said through an interpreter while walking a stadium tunnel immediately after the game.

Showing how big a deal Suzuki tying the record is in Japan, a television network there flew Harimoto to Seattle so he could see the eight-time All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder do it.

"For Mr. Harimoto to make the trip all the way here from Japan for the game, it's probably the first and last time. That has special meaning to me," Suzuki said through his interpreter.

"Of course I definitely didn't think grand slam. ... That barely happens in any situation."

Jarrod Washburn (2-0) bulled through a bad cold for his 100th career victory. He allowed two runs in six steady innings against his former team. Seattle lost 101 games last season but is 7-2 now, off to its best start since 2001, its last playoff season.

After some prodding, Griffey said No. 400 with Seattle meant something.

"It means a lot. It's just, I don't worry about numbers," Griffey said. "You play long enough, you are going to rack up some numbers - some are good, some are bad.

"I've been fortunate, that's the best way I can describe it."

Baseball's 39-year-old active home run leader turned sharply on a 2-1 fastball from Weaver for his second home run of the year. Griffey gave his vintage, no-doubt reaction to the solo shot: a dropped bat at his feet and long stare. He watched the ball land three rows into the bleachers beyond right-center field to give Seattle a 3-2 lead, three pitches after Endy Chavez had tied the game with a solo home run.

Weaver (1-1) allowed 10 hits and four runs in five-plus innings. He walked two and struck out two.

The crowd of about 18,516 at Safeco Field - dubbed the house that Junior built after Griffey's MVP heroics in the mid-1990s largely saved baseball in Seattle - roared as he rounded the bases. The unending roaring prompted Griffey's first curtain call since returning. He emerged from the dugout to tip his batting helmet to the fans, many of whom were wearing his No. 24 jersey in either blue or white.

Griffey connected again back inside the dugout - with a lunging kiss on the cheek of Trey, his teenage son.

"He didn't really like the kiss," Dad said, laughing. "I told him he'd have an easier time getting girlfriends if they saw him getting a kiss from dad, seeing his softer side."

Griffey's previous home run as a Mariner in Seattle came on Sept. 22, 1999, off Kansas City's Jay Witasick in what was his 48th and final home run of that season. A few months later, the Mariners granted his wish and traded him to Cincinnati.

Torii Hunter hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Washburn to give Los Angeles a brief 2-1 lead in the fifth. It was Hunter's third home run in six at-bats.

Los Angeles dropped two games under .500 for the first time since April 20, 2007.

Immediately after the game, Weaver, manager Mike Scioscia, pitching coach Mike Butcher, Angels pitchers John Lackey and Dustin Moseley joined general manager Tony Reagins and team owner Arte Moreno on a flight to Maryland for a private ceremony Thursday honoring teammate Nick Adenhart. Adenhart died last week in an automobile accident hours after a start.

Those Angels are due back in time for Thursday night's series finale in Seattle.

"We are still professional. We have to find it. It kind of knocked us down a little last week, the tragedy," Hunter said. "We're trying to find it now."


Angels RHP Rafael Rodriguez, selected from Triple-A Salt Lake late Tuesday, allowed one hit in one inning in his major league debut. ... Mariners C Kenji Johjima left the game with a tight right hamstring. He will be evaluated by doctors Thursday.


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