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It's just grand


It's just grand
Another strong outing by Jarrod Washburn, who fought off the flu to win his 100th career game.

A rare homer by Endy Chavez. A great piece of clutch relief by rookie Shawn Kelley. An eventful fill-in job by catcher Rob Johnson after Kenji Johjima had to leave with hamstring tightness. Another sensational catch by Franklin Gutierrez.

Another day, another victory, another varied crew of heroes for the surging Mariners .

But in the end, this one, as so many before, belonged to the Mariners' twin icons, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro.

Griffey blasted his 400th homer as a Mariner in the fifth inning his first at Safeco Field in his second incarnation as a Mariner giving Seattle the lead to stay in an 11-3 romp over the Angels.

And Ichiro, playing his first game of the season after a stint on the 15-day disabled list for a bleeding ulcer, managed to upstage even the sainted Junior.

He drilled a single in the third, then capped the Seattle scoring with a grand slam in the seventh inning off Angels reliever Jason Bulger.

Just for added dramatic impact, the salami was Ichiro's 3,085th career hit between Japan and Seattle, tying him with Japan hit king Isao Harimoto a living legend of Japanese Baseball who just happened to be in attendance at Safeco Field.

"For me to get a home run on the same day Junior had a historical homer for him, that's very special for me," Ichiro said afterward through interpreter Ken Barron. "But also today, probably the two lightest guys in the major leagues hit homers together me and Endy Chavez. That's very special."

On whether he ever dreamed of tying the record the pursuit of which drew a larger than normal contingent of Japanese media with a salami, Ichiro said: "A lot of time when I have a record on the line, I have a tendency to hit a home run in those situations, so it crossed my mind maybe it would happen.

"But a grand slam? That barely happens in any situation, so it definitely didn't cross my mind."

It's early, and it may not last, but the Mariners are rapidly becoming the talk of Baseball. Coming off a season of 101 losses, they have won six in a row to improve to 7-2, playing an aggressive brand of Baseball that is becoming their trademark. With Baltimore losing to fall to 6-3, the M's now own the best record in the American League.

Also significant is the fact they have twice taken it to the Angels, who have made the kind of mistakes more common to the Mariners in recent matchups.

"They look different than last year," said Angels outfielder Torii Hunter. "They look hungry. They've got new life with Griffey, and they still have Ichiro.

"They hit the ball well today. They play the game the right way. They've got good pitching behind them. They look good."

The rejuvenated, but ailing, Washburn, who had worked eight scoreless innings against Minnesota in his 2009 debut, gutted his way through six innings, allowing just two runs. Both came on a Hunter homer in the fifth after Washburn had retired the first 12 batters he faced.

"To me, the whole tone was set by Washburn, who was awfully sick," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "We got him out of there, but he turned in another strong outing."

His voice reduced to a scratchy whisper, Washburn had an excused absence from talking to the media after the game.

Leading off the bottom of the fifth against Angels starter Jered Weaver, Chavez belted a 3-2 pitch over the right-field wall just the 18th homer of his career in 2,111 at-bats to tie the game at 2.

Up stepped Griffey, whose home-run numbers are a bit more prolific. But Griffey, fifth on the all-time list, was lugging a .150 batting average to the plate, having been retired twice previously by Weaver including a strikeout with two aboard in the third.

However, on a 2-1 pitch, Griffey stepped into a fat Weaver offering and sent it on a familiar arc over the right-field wall. It was his 613th career homer two during his second Seattle stint to add to the 398 he collected in his first go-round. He's the first player ever to hit at least 400 homers with one team and 200 with another.

As he crossed the plate to a huge ovation, Griffey pointed toward his family in a suite, and when the crowd continued to roar, came out of the dugout for a curtain call. But not before planting a kiss on his embarrassed 15-year-old son, Trey, who informed him, "Dad, we have to talk."

Added Griffey: "It's a lot of fun when you win. To be able to go out there and perform and have fun and win, there's nothing better. ... We've been able to do some little things to win games, and we've done some big things, too."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

Today

L.A. Angels @ Mariners , 7:10 p.m., FSN


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 17, 2009

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