Mariners 2, Twins 1(10)
Ichiro Suzuki reached first base safely, saw Ryan Langerhans crossing home plate with the winning run and uncharacteristically showed raw emotion leaping into air to celebrate Seattle's victory.
It was a day full of emotion for the entire franchise, capped by the Mariners' most reserved star letting his guard down just a bit.
``Today was a special day. We all wanted to win for Junior and I'm glad I got to accomplish that,'' Suzuki said through an interpreter. ``That was a natural reaction ... I guess I could say that was my true feelings toward Junior.''
On the day the greatest player in Seattle history unexpectedly announced his retirement, Suzuki came through with an infield single in the 10th inning to give the Mariners a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Just hours after Ken Griffey Jr. announced he was done with baseball after 22 seasons, the guy next in the pecking order of greatest Mariners came through to give Seattle its first extra-inning victory of the season.
Suzuki's ground ball on the 11th pitch from Minnesota reliever Jose Mijares nearly got through the infield, almost rolling over the `'24'' placed in dirt behind second base by the grounds crew. Minnesota's Matt Tolbert smothered the grounder, but his attempted force on Josh Wilson at second base was late, Wilson barely beating the ball.
Langerhans, pinch-running for Casey Kotchman at second, never hesitated racing around third and scored standing up. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said after the game he believed replays showed Wilson was out at second.
``I really wanted a win today. I had somebody else's legs out there today,'' Seattle's Milton Bradley said. ``I was full of a lot of emotions and wanted especially to get a win tonight so Junior's retirement would be right.''
Many Mariners fans showed up with impromptu homemade signs and wearing Griffey shirts as their way of saying thanks to the greatest player ever to don a Seattle uniform. In 1,685 games with the Mariners, Griffey hit .292 with 417 of his 630 home runs and 1,216 RBIs.
He was hitting just .184 with no homers and seven RBIs this season, stuck in a role of backup designated hitter and part-time pinch-hitter.
Griffey's announcement was a surprise for most of his teammates, told only moments before batting practice on Wednesday. Bradley said ``a little birdie'' told him a couple of days ago, but he didn't want to believe it could be true that Griffey was about to step away.
Griffey's locker was completely cleared out by the time Wednesday night's game ended.
``I had the day off yesterday, sat with Griffey and talked to him the whole game, and I didn't think it was going to happen,'' Bradley said. ``I happened to spend some time with him in the video room watching his last 40 or so home runs, just reliving them with him. I didn't know that was going to be one of the last moments we spent as teammates, but I'm glad we had the time.''
Before Suzuki's hit, Seattle's last game-ending hit came off the bat of Griffey in a pinch-hitting role on May 20 against Toronto. The game-winning single that day was the last hit of Griffey's career.
``During the game you can't forget thinking about Junior. He was always in the back of my mind,'' Suzuki said.
Langerhans became an unlikely part of the story. He was running for Kotchman, who reached on a one-out infield single off Matt Guerrier (0-1). Wilson then singled to left with two outs giving Suzuki a chance to get to the plate.
Having struck out three times already for the first time in nearly three seasons, Suzuki fouled off seven straight pitches before getting his hit.
Brandon League (5-5) got the win for Seattle pitching a perfect 10th.
Cliff Lee threw eight strong innings for Seattle and was on pace for his ninth career win against the Twins until the seventh. Minnesota got its lone run on Michael Cuddyer's homer to deep right-center field leading off the inning. Lee left a 1-2 cutter over the plate and Cuddyer drove it for his seventh homer. It was the first homer allowed by Lee this season after 50 2-3 innings.
Cuddyer is leaving the Twins on Thursday following the death of his father-in-law. Gardenhire said Cuddyer would be placed on the bereavement list and not rejoin the team until they return to Minneapolis early next week. But the Twins also missed chances with runners in scoring position in both the fourth and ninth innings.
``We had a couple of opportunities to score some runs and didn't get it done,'' Gardenhire said.
NOTES: Bradley manufactured Seattle's first run, singling, stealing both second and third and scoring on a sacrifice fly in the fourth. ... Twins starter Kevin Slowey worked seven innings giving up five hits and striking out three. ... The Mariners played a five-minute video tribute to Griffey. ... Griffey's final at-bat came in a pinch-hitting situation in the ninth inning on Monday. He grounded into a fielder's choice.