AMERICAN LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Griffey Takes Charge and Leads the Mariners Over Yankees, 10-5

When the Seattle Mariners made Ken Griffey Jr. the No. 1 draft pick as a 17-year-old schoolboy in 1987, they were certain that someday he would be the player to build the franchise around.

Still, hardly anyone was prepared for Griffey to become a franchise player at 20.

But that’s just what the Mariner center fielder is becoming. Griffey had three hits, including his seventh home run, Sunday at Seattle to lead the Mariners past the New York Yankees, 10-5.

Griffey, in only his second major league season, is hitting .370 to lead the league. He has also scored 23 runs and driven in 22. Due in part to his contributions, the Mariners no longer are the worst team in the league.


“Maybe he’s not quite in the company of superstars such as Willie Mays or Henry Aaron, yet,” Seattle General Manager Woody Woodward said. “But he has the potential to be that kind of player.

“As young as he is, I think you can put him in the category with Jose Canseco, Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell right now. Yes, you could definitely say that.”

Griffey, who was born in Donora, Pa., the birthplace of Stan Musial, still has things to learn. For instance, while he makes some great catches in center, he also makes mistakes.

“But, he’s such a bright kid,” Manager Jim Lefebvre said, “that he learns from his mistakes. Making the adjustments takes more than raw talent alone. He’s aware of what’s going on all the time.”

After two seasons in the minors, Griffey, joined the Mariners last season. Obviously, he was ready. He played 127 games, batted .264, hit 16 home runs and drove in 61 runs.

Alvin Davis and Brian Giles also hit home runs for the Mariners (15-18), enabling Matt Young to win as a starter for the first time in more than four years.

Although he gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings, Young, who has been a reliever the last three seasons, improved to 1-3. Young, traded to the Dodgers in 1987, couldn’t even win at Oakland last season. The Mariners signed him as a free agent.

Giles was zero for 17 and had not batted since April 17. He hit his first home run since June 9, 1985.

Chicago 4, Kansas City 3--Beleaguered Royals’ Manager John Wathan decided to take the pressure off his high-priced bullpen stopper, Mark Davis, by making Jeff Montgomery the closer. Davis has failed to hold leads four times.

With the Royals leading, 3-2, going in the eighth at Chicago, Wathan brought in Montgomery. He wasn’t the answer.

In the eighth, Lance Johnson singled, stole second and scored Dan Pasqua’s single to tie it.

An error by center fielder Bo Jackson on Scott Fletcher’s double with one out in the ninth set the stage for Johnson. With Fletcher on third, two intentional walks loaded the bases. Johnson scored Fletcher with a sacrifice fly.

“One of these days,” Wathan said after his Royals fell to 10-20, “I hope to wake up and find this was all a bad dream.”

Baltimore 4, Oakland 1--Catcher Mickey Tettleton broke a zero-for-21 slump with a run-scoring double at Oakland, but his defensive play in the eighth inning was even bigger.

With the Orioles leading, 3-1, there were two on, nobody out and Jose Canseco at bat. The Athletics put on the double steal and Tettleton threw out Carney Lansford at second. On the replays, Lansford appeared to slide in ahead of second baseman Billy Ripken’s tag.

Tettleton ignored the front man, Rickey Henderson.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Tettleton said. “That’s Tony’s (Oakland Manager Tony La Russa) style. They’re both proven base stealers. Our bench made the call to go for Lansford.”

The Athletics failed to score and Jay Tibbs and four relievers combined on a five-hitter to give the Orioles two in a row on the road for the first time this season.

The Athletics’ lead in the West is just 3 1/2 over surging Chicago.

Minnesota 8, Milwaukee 6--Former UCLA star Shane Mack, a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, has been trying to make it in the majors for five years.

The Twins drafted Mack in December from San Diego, where he did not play last season after June 16 because of elbow surgery.

He may finally have made it with the Twins. Mack, batting .382, singled in two runs and scored another at Minneapolis.

“I’ve never worried about (making the club),” Mack said. “I was concerned about missing almost an entire year and coming back to do well. I’m just concentrating on my job--see the ball, hit it hard and play good defense.”

Toronto 6, Detroit 3--George Bell homered, doubled and scored the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning at Detroit.

The 12th error of the season by third baseman Tony Phillips set up two unearned runs in the eighth that put the Blue Jays ahead.

Former Blue Jay Lloyd Moseby hit his fourth homer for the Tigers, but Detroit’s Cecil Fielder, the major leagues’ top home run hitter with 13, was zero for three.

Cleveland 4, Texas 1--John Farrell held the Rangers to five hits in eight innings at Arlington, Tex., improving to 4-0 against Texas.

Jerry Browne opened the game for the Indians with his first home run of the season and also drove in the final run with a sacrifice fly.

Gary Pettis homered with two out in the Texas eighth.