Torii Hunter was in the Angels' dugout when aSeattle fan asked the three-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Gloveoutfielder for his favorite athlete.
"Michael Jordan," Hunter said, "in baseball? Griffey andKirby Puckett."
Then Hunter played like his now-retired idol did - on theMariners' "turn back the clock day" to 1995 and Ken Griffey Jr.'sprime.
Hunter had three hits, three RBIs and keyed a decisive six-runsixth inning to lead surging Los Angeles to an 11-2 rout of Seattleon Saturday.
The Angels won for the ninth time in 11 games and improved to aseason-high two games over .500. They are 5-1 on a 14-game trip,their longest trek in eight years.
Two days after Griffey called Hunter during the 40-year-old'sliberating drive home into retirement in Florida, Hunter describedGriffey's legacy and the inspiration he's drawn from him.
"We went through that 'Steroid Era,' yet you never heardGriffey's name in that. He was clean-cut, but you never wanted toface him when he was at the plate," Hunter said of the man with630 career homers, fifth overall.
"He was the face of baseball for many years. He inspired guyslike Mike Cameron and me to play center field like Griffey did."
Ervin Santana (6-3) won his fifth consecutive start, allowingone run and seven hits in six innings, even though he said hisslider wasn't sharp.
Right now, the pitchers don't have to be at their best. TheAngels are 6-1 and averaging 6.3 runs per game since leading powerhitter Kendry Morales broke his leg in a freak injury celebrating awin.
"Since Kendry went out, everyone's been stepping it up toanother level," Hunter said. "It's actually a lot of fun. A lotbetter than April. I never want to see that again."
The Mariners wore aqua-green jerseys and the stadium blared themusic of MC Hammer and others of his era to commemorate Seattle'sfirst playoff season of 1995.
But it felt more like the Mariners' dreadful days of 1970s and'80s.
Three Seattle relievers allowed 10 earned runs, seven hits andseven walks before they got their fifth out following fill-instarter Ryan Rowland-Smith's solid outing.
The Mariners have hit into five double plays, three by formerAngel Chone Figgins, while losing the first two games of thisseries to fall 11 games under .500.
It was the 23rd time in 55 games Seattle scored two or fewerruns. The only other American League team that has scored so littleso often is Baltimore - which just fired its manager.
Los Angeles broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth against relieversGarrett Olson (0-1), who was in Triple-A last week, and a wildShawn Kelley, who may be heading to the minors soon.
After Maicer Izturis' two-run single made it 5-1, Kelleyimploded - and 31,548 fans booed him off the field. Kelley hitHowie Kendrick with a pitch, then walked Bobby Abreu to load thebases. Then came two more walks for two more runs - to Hunter andHideki Matsui.
Kelley departed after allowing three runs, one hit, four walks,and hitting a batter. He got just one out. Then he sat in thedugout with his head in his hands, looking down at his feet andsqueezing his head.
"I don't know if I've ever experienced anything like that," hesaid.
Sean White allowed four more runs in 1 1-3 innings behind him.
Seattle briefly tied it at 1 in the fifth when Ichiro Suzukidoubled for his second hit. He scored on an RBI groundout byFranklin Gutierrez.
That made Suzuki the eighth-fastest active player - and thirdMariner ever - to reach 1,000 career runs. The crowd stood andchanted "I-chi-ro!" until he emerged onto the top steps of thedugout to tip his cap.
"Well, that's part of my job, to score runs as a leadoffhitter," Suzuki said, through his interpreter.
NOTES: Suzuki has a major league-best 28 multi-hit games. Heslapped his league-leading 18th infield hit. ... Edgar Martinezscored 1,219 runs for Seattle. Griffey retired Wednesday with1,113. ... The Angels are 6-0 when bench coach Ron Roenicke servesas interim manager. "It's pretty amazing to manage when it goeslike that," he said, smiling. Mike Scioscia flew home before thegame to attend his daughter's high school graduation. He willrejoin the team for Monday's game in Oakland.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times