Griffey Must Settle for a Piece of Eight : Baseball: Mariner center fielder shares consecutive-game home run streak with Long, Mattingly after Twins hold him inside the park.
Ken Griffey Jr. learned how a pitcher with a no-hitter working feels in the dugout.
He also found out how a pitcher feels when the no-hitter is broken up.
Griffey had to settle for a share of the record for consecutive games in which he hit home runs when he failed Thursday in an effort to stretch it to nine.
The mark was set by Dale Long of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1956 and tied by Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees in 1987 and Griffey on Wednesday.
On Thursday, he got the silent treatment from teammates, who gave him a wide berth.
“They treated me like somebody who was throwing a no-hitter,” he said with a smile. “They just let me do my thing. They didn’t really bother me.”
Griffey singled in the first inning and doubled off the base of the center-field wall in the third. He grounded out to second base in the fifth inning against Minnesota Twin starter Scott Erickson, then popped out to second base against reliever Larry Casian in the seventh.
The Mariners won the game, 4-3, with two runs in the seventh inning as Rich Amaral and Jay Buhner delivered RBI doubles.
Griffey broke his silence with the media once the streak ended.
“It was a lot of fun. I’m not disappointed,” he said. “It was long, but I’m happy for what I did, what I achieved.”
Griffey, 23, had put his name in the record book Wednesday night when he homered in the seventh inning against the Twins’ Willie Banks.
He has a 10-game hitting streak and is hitting .320 with 30 home runs and 76 RBIs.
The home run streak started at Yankee Stadium on July 20 when Griffey homered off Paul Gibson. He also homered off Jimmy Key of New York, Jeff Mutis, Albie Lopez, Matt Young and Jose Mesa of Cleveland, and Minnesota’s Kevin Tapani and Banks.
“After the first four days, we were in the car and my mother goes, ‘Well, what’s the record?’ ” Griffey said. “I go ‘eight.’ She said, ‘It doesn’t look good for you.’ ”
Mom was wrong.
“It’s been a long week,” Griffey said. “Every day I came out and did the best job I could. I’m just glad we won tonight. That was the biggest thing.
“I was just trying to hit the ball hard,” Griffey said. “If I could get one up and it had a chance to go out. . . .
“But it was fun. It’s not every day I can go to the ballpark and hit a home run for eight straight days.”
The Twins paid tribute to Griffey for tying the record.
“He gave it a hell of a shot,” Twin Manager Tom Kelly said.
“The guy’s a great player and it was a phenomenal accomplishment,” Minnesota’s Brian Harper said.
Ken Griffey Sr., Seattle’s hitting coach, embraced his 23-year-old son on the field as the fans gave Griffey Jr. their third standing ovation of the night.
“If you look at his numbers, you’d think he’s a home-run hitter,” Griffey Sr. said. “When he hits the ball hard and gets it up in the air, he’s going to get home runs. He thinks he’s a line-drive hitter. We’re going to let him think anything he wants to. I’m proud of anything he does right now.”
Mariner Manager Lou Piniella said Griffey has handled the pressure well, and he had even predicted Griffey would set the record.
“I expect he’ll come out and be nice and loosey-goosey and pick out a pretty good pitch and let it fly,” Piniella said before the game. “That’s all he’s been doing now. There’s no reason to change anything.”
If Griffey wasn’t talking before the game, Twin All-Star Kirby Puckett sure had a few things to say.
“He can do anything he wants,” Puckett said. “He has 30 home runs and we have two months to go. I don’t think he realizes what he’s done.
“He’s on pace to get 50 home runs. He’s phenomenal, he’s fun to watch and he’s definitely the best in the game.”
Of his eight homers in the streak, six have been longer than 400 feet.
“It’s just amazing to sit back and watch him hit balls into the upper deck here,” teammate Mike Felder said. “He’s still growing and he’s still getting stronger,”
Griffey, in his fifth season with the Mariners, has already been an All-Star four times. In addition, his winning smile has made him a lot of friends among the fans. He was the American League’s leading vote-getter for the 1991 and 1993 All-Star games.
Puckett was the All-Star game’s MVP this season. Griffey won the honor last year.
The two have developed a friendship.
“I’m not in the same class as he is,” Puckett said. “From my standpoint, I don’t think anyone in the game who is. Not even Barry Bonds.”
He says it’s impossible for Griffey to appreciate what he’s accomplished because of his age.
“He has a lot of growing up to do,” Puckett said. “He’s just going out and playing. Later on in his career, he will look back and say, ‘Wow, I did that!’ ”
A look at Ken Griffey’s attempt Thursday to set a major league record of home runs in nine consecutive games. Inning: Result First: Single to right Third: Double to center Fifth: Grounded to second Seventh: Popped to second