Griffey takes swings of own for HRs 49, 50 in 11-1 O's loss Grand slam off Key makes him record third player with 50 this season

September 08, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Jamie Moyer pitched for the Seattle Mariners last night. Doug Drabek pitched for the Orioles. Ken Griffey took another whack at history.

Enough said.

The chilling combination played out in an 11-1 win for the Mariners before a Kingdome crowd of 24,229. Moyer again dominated his former team by winning his seventh consecutive regular-season decision against it. Drabek, owner of one win since May, received another push toward a painful career decision. He managed only nine outs, allowing seven hits and two of four Mariners home runs.

"That was an old-fashioned tail whippin'," said Orioles manager Ray Miller.

Left in the backwash of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, Griffey slammed his 49th and 50th home runs, giving baseball three 50-homer players in a season for the first time. The Mariners center fielder dutifully gave the frenzied home crowd the curtain call it demanded.

"Today," said Griffey, "is Mark McGwire's day."

Griffey said he missed McGwire's 61st earlier in the day. He was at home with his son asleep. "We watch a lot more cartoons at home than we do baseball," said Griffey, whose only television yesterday was devoted to "Sesame Street."

Griffey chose not to philosophize about his year, spectacular as it may be. In keeping with his refusal to focus on himself, he spoke about the win, the season and what has been a magical year for a battered industry.

Rather than discuss himself and his six RBIs last night, Griffey referred to McGwire and Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and teammate Alex Rodriguez as providing the tapestry for an unforgettable year.

"There have been a lot of great things happen in baseball. McGwire hits 61. Somebody [Bonds] goes 400-400 [in career homers and stolen bases]. Roger pitches three straight shutouts. And we've got a shortstop who's going 40-40. It hasn't been just one thing. It's been a lot of great things," Griffey said.

Miller wouldn't discount Griffey making a run at 61 himself given the Mariners' 21 remaining games. Griffey sidestepped when asked for his opinion.

Griffey homered off Pete Smith's misplaced changeup in the fifth inning to give the Mariners a 6-1 lead, then returned for No. 50, a grand slam, off a Jimmy Key fastball an inning later. The Orioles doubt the conventional wisdom that says Griffey has put together the quietest 50 home runs in major-league history. Griffey owns four home runs and 14 RBIs against the Orioles this season.

The Mariners' breakout was almost to be expected since the two teams combined for 40 home runs in their 10 games this season. All but one of the Mariners' runs came from their four homers. Drabek's two home runs allowed left him with 20 in 106 1/3 innings, a frightful ratio of about one per five innings.

Drabek's performance was so disheartening that Miller conceded afterward that his former Cy Young Award winner had made his final start of the season and presumably his last for the Orioles.

Moyer became only the latest left-hander to stuff the Orioles, who fell to 20-24 vs. left-handed starters. The need for an additional right-handed hitter has been added to the Orioles' winter wish list, whoever might be in charge of carrying it out.

"We've had trouble against left-handers over the last 25 games or so," said Miller. "Our left-handed hitters have had trouble. For that matter, our right-handed hitters have had trouble against them."

If Griffey is the hammer, Moyer (13-8) is kryptonite to the Orioles. He is left-handed and can't break a windshield with his fastball. Give the Orioles Randy Johnson but don't ask them to beat a guy who pitches with his arm and his head.

Moyer held the Orioles to two hits and one unearned run through six innings while Edgar Martinez, Rodriguez and Griffey punished Drabek (6-11) and Smith with a series of two-run homers.

50-homer club

Major-league players who have hit 50 or more home runs in a season:

61: Roger Maris, N.Y. Yankees, 1961

61: Mark McGwire, St. Louis, 1998

60: Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1927

59: Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1921

58: Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics, 1932

58: Hank Greenberg, Detroit Tigers, 1938

58: Mark McGwire, Oakland and St. Louis, 1997

58: Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 1998

56: Hack Wilson, Chicago Cubs, 1930

56: Ken Griffey, Seattle Mariners, 1997

54: Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1920

54: Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1928

54: Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1949

54: Mickey Mantle, N.Y. Yankees, 1961

52: Mickey Mantle, N.Y. Yankees, 1956

52: Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants, 1965

52: George Foster, Cincinnati Reds, 1977

52: Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics, 1996

51: Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1947

51: Johnny Mize, N.Y. Giants, 1947

51: Willie Mays, N.Y. Giants, 1955

51: Cecil Fielder, Detroit Tigers, 1990

50: Jimmie Foxx, Boston Red Sox, 1938

50: Albert Belle, Cleveland Indians, 1995

50: Brady Anderson, Baltimore Orioles, 1996

50: Ken Griffey, Seattle Mariners, 1998

Pub Date: 9/08/98

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