Davis, Griffey make it a banner day at the ballpark
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The thrill remains.
After 16 seasons and almost 8,000 at-bats, game-winning home runs still send the same tingle down the spine of Chili Davis.
Kansas City’s designated hitter, who’d been having a miserable day, whacked Bobby Ayala’s second pitch of the 11th inning far over the right-field fence Sunday, lifting the Royals to a 4-3 victory over Seattle and Ken Griffey Jr., who hit his record-tying 22nd home.
As Davis’ game-winning clout took flight, he paused in the batters box.
``I wasn’t really watching it,″ said Davis, who also had a game-winning home run while leading off the 10th inning against Toronto last month. ``I was just savoring the way it felt off the bat. It felt good.″
The entire game felt good to Kansas City manager Bob Boone, whose club has won two straight after losing seven in a row.
``That was beautiful,″ Boone said. ``It was a well played game on both sides. In games like this, there’s stress with every pitch. The best part, besides winning, is the huge relief of that tension.″
Griffey, in the meantime, continued to assault the record books. He homered off Glendon Rusch in the first inning, tying the mark he set in 1994 with 22 home runs through May.
He’ll have six more games this month to break the record, two in Minnesota and four back home in the Kingdome.
``I just love the game,″ said Griffey, who was designated hitter for the first time since last year’s season finale. ``When you love the game, you just smile and come to the park every day. When you lose, you just smile and come back tomorrow.″
Griffey set a record for home runs in April with 13.
This record-tying homer, he said, ``was just a run. We didn’t win, and that’s the important thing.″
It was the eighth loss in 10 games for the Mariners.
``Every team goes through (a losing spell). Let’s do it now, get it over with and tear up the rest of the league the rest of the way,″ said Griffey.
The home run was Griffey’ sixth in 11 games and raised his RBI count to 59, also tops in the majors.
``I told (coach) Jamie Quirk I think I might have to go to the Sparky Anderson strategy and just walk the guy. He’s hot,″ Kansas City manager Bob Boone said.
If that doesn’t work, Boone said he’s got another way to pitch to Griffey.
``The strategy is throw it over the plate and hide my eyes,″ Boone said. ``From now on, I’m going to go into the bathroom while he bats. Tell me what happened.″
Simply walking Griffey every time may not work because he’s got teammates who can also go deep. Seattle homered in the ninth inning of all three games in this series and has hit 30 home runs in their last 17 games. The Royals took a 3-2 lead into the ninth but Brent Gates tied it 3-all with a leadoff homer against Jeff Montgomery.
Also hot is Joey Cora, who had two hits to stretch hit hitting streak to 20 games. That’s the best in the majors this year and one short of the Seattle record.
``I told Jamie he’s a better hitter than Pete Rose,″ Boone said.
The winner with one inning of scoreless relief was Jamie Walker (3-2).
Notes: Cora also tops the AL with 164 at-bats without grounding into a double play. ... Richie Zisk and Dan Meyer share the Seattle record with 21-game hitting streaks. Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez had a 20-gamer last year. ... Rusch, a Seattle native, gave up five hits and four runs in a one-inning relief stint in the Kingdome on April 23 in his only other appearance against his hometown team. ... Since ending an 0-for-13 slump, Jose Offerman is 6-for-8.