Griffey's homer awakens Seattle
MINNEAPOLIS — With one of his smooth and still-powerful left-handed swings, Ken Griffey Jr. roused the Seattle Mariners and sent a virtual Mother's Day card sailing over the right-field wall.
"It's a cheap way of me not buying my mom a gift," Griffey joked after Seattle's 5-3 comeback victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday stopped the Mariners' six-game losing streak.
Griffey was sure his mother, Birdie, would be smiling at his 614th career homer, a two-run shot in the eighth inning that tied it at 2.
And how's this for being a family man? Griffey's first and 400th home runs both came on his dad's birthday, and he hit No. 500 on Father's Day. This was his seventh career homer on Mother's Day in 21 seasons.
"You try to do your best on certain days, and Mother's Day is one of them," said Griffey, one of several players who used a pink-painted bat for the occasion and breast cancer awareness. "You don't want to get yelled at by Mom at home, if you take 0-for-4 with three strikeouts."
Wladimir Balentien added an RBI double in that breakthrough eighth, ruining seven shutout innings by Nick Blackburn. Blackburn rebounded from his worst start of the season with his best, surrendering only five hits and a walk while striking out six against a Seattle lineup that produced a total of 10 runs in the previous five games.
But the Mariners broke out late, scoring half that many in the last two innings against a Twins bullpen that has been trying to steady itself for the better part of the past two years.
Left-hander Jose Mijares walked Jose Lopez in front of the homer, a pitch he left down and in — in Griffey's "whomping zone," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Then Jesse Crain (1-1) gave up three straight hits, including a single by Russell Branyan that clipped off the top of first baseman Justin Morneau's glove. Another run scored on a wild pitch, and Balentien's big hit brought boos from the crowd.
After a 12-6 start to this start-fresh season, the Mariners were stumbling badly in May. They were outscored 45-15 in their skid.
Closer Brendan Morrow had his here-we-go-again moment in the ninth.
Making his first appearance since April 23 after sitting out with biceps tendinitis, Morrow got his sixth save despite giving up a two-out RBI single to Joe Mauer and walking Morneau and Michael Cuddyer on eight pitches to load the bases.