Griffey, Hernandez help Mariners beat TwinsKen Griffey Jr. got off to a great second start with the Seattle Mariners, hitting an opening-night home run to back Felix Hernandez in a 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ken Griffey Jr. got off to a great second start with the Seattle Mariners, hitting an opening-night home run to back Felix Hernandez in a 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday.
Hernandez pitched eight innings and Franklin Gutierrez had a two-run homer against Francisco Liriano as the Mariners — with five new faces in their lineup — took the first step toward forgetting the futility of last year. Manager Don Wakamatsu, baseball’s first Asian-American in that job, enjoyed a winning debut.
With Ichiro Suzuki’s No. 51 jersey hanging in the dugout as a sign of togetherness, a trait sorely lacking during a 61-101 season in 2008, Seattle spoiled the final of 28 openers in the Metrodome’s history. The Twins move to open-air Target Field next spring.
Sunshine illuminated a cloudless sky outside, but with the wind blowing and the first-pitch temperature a nippy 41 degrees the Teflon roof served a purpose. The Twins wore replicas of their uniforms from 1982, the Dome’s first season, with the red caps and cursive lettering on their chests. They also had a special patch to honor late owner Carl Pohlad.
Griffey’s 41 homers against Minnesota are his most against any opponent, a remarkable number given his nine years in the National League. His eighth opening-day home run matched a major league record and gave him 612 for his career.
Hernandez (1-0) retired the last 10 batters he faced and struck out six, yielding one run, five hits and three walks, and the Twins left five runners in scoring position. The Mariners increased their lead in the ninth against the Minnesota bullpen on a two-run single by Jose Lopez.
Michael Cuddyer struck out three times, but his RBI single in the fifth was the only damage for Minnesota. Hernandez hobbled around the mound, twice turning his right ankle while hustling into fielding position, but his stuff sure looked sharp in his second career opening-day start.
Morneau followed Cuddyer’s big hit with an inning-ending double-play grounder. Earlier in the fifth, with the bases already full and nobody out, Alexi Casilla swung at a neck-high pitch and popped out.
Mike Redmond, playing behind the plate for injured All-Star Joe Mauer, led off that inning with a double after getting hit by an errant bat shard. That, however, was Minnesota’s only extra-base hit.
Liriano (0-1) went without a walk and allowed only four baserunners, but he left several hittable balls up in the strike zone. Adrian Beltre doubled and scored on Jose Lopez’s second-inning sacrifice fly. Griffey led off the fifth with his homer. Then Gutierrez followed Endy Chavez’s one-out single in the sixth with his shot in an inning with two other long flyouts.
Notes: Suzuki’s bloodwork will be back Wednesday, and if it checks out all right the Mariners will consider a schedule for him to play in some minor league games. On the DL because of a bleeding ulcer, he’s eligible to be activated April 15. “He wants to play in a game, like yesterday,” Wakamatsu said. “We’re slowing him down. ... Until that point, we want him just to keep working out.” ... The start of bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek’s 29th season with the Twins was delayed by sickness. He felt groggy and was taken to a hospital as a precaution. ... Wakamatsu took several calls from friends around the game, including former boss Buck Showalter, who managed the Texas Rangers from 2003-06 while Wakamatsu was bench coach. “He said, ‘Do not stumble on the turf,”‘ Wakamatsu said, sharing the best advice. “That’d be a pretty bad first impression.” ... With five starting-caliber OFers for three spots and a DH, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire left Delmon Young, 1-for-7 in his career against Hernandez, on the bench. Young will be in Tuesday’s lineup. “They’re all going to play, all year long,” Gardenhire said.