Ken Griffey Jr.'s Pinch-Hit Heroics Electrify Seattle Mariners Beat D'backs

Chris DiFrancescoAnalyst IJune 20, 2009

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu told the media that he thought Ken Griffey Jr. was starting to get his groove back. Last night was the perfect indication that he was right.

Ken Griffey Jr. slammed a pinch-hit home run in the eighth to tie the game at three. It was a classic shot by Junior that sent the Safeco crowd into a frenzy. He hit it seven-rows deep over the right-centerfield wall on the first pitch off D'Backs reliever Tony Pena

The blast propelled his teammates as Chris Woodward came up next and ripped a single, and scored on catcher Rob Johnson's triple. The M's took the lead and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3.

Russell Branyan also clubbed his 16th dinger of the season to open up the eight inning.

After the game all the Mariners players could talk about was Junior's memorable blast.

"That was unbelievable," catcher Rob Johnson said. "The fans were going crazy when Branyan hit the home run, but when Junior stepped into the box it was as loud as I have heard it here, and the place wasn't even packed. I can't think of a better situation for something like that to happen.

"There wouldn't be this stadium if not for him. The people in this city love him and the players on this team love him. For something like that to happen is special."

After Griffey hit his seventh homer of the season, he got to the dugout and took his first curtain call of the season.

"I was just looking for a pitch I could hit," Griffey said of his 618th career home run and sixth in a pinch-hit role. "I was not trying to do too much, get a pitch I could hit and hopefully hit it. I wasn't trying to hit a home run."

"The only thing I was thinking about (going around the bases) is don't fall and embarrass yourself," Griffey said.

Griffey dropped his bat, and went into his historic home-run trot down the first base line.

"He jumped on that ball and it looked like he was 18," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "It was beautiful."

It was Juniors first pinch-hit home run since September of 2006.

A scary moment for the Mariners occurred in the fifth inning. Left fielder Endy Chavez injured his right knee in a collision with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

Chavez had to be taken off the field on a cart. He will have an MRI exam on the knee on Saturday.

M's starter Jarrod Washburn pitched pretty well going seven innings, and giving up just three hits in a no-decision. Problem is, Washburn has not won a game since April 21. That's 12 starts.

It was a special night for the 27,319 that paid to see a win. What they got was a win and some extra magic.

Their prodigal son Ken Griffey Jr. electrifying them in the house that he built.