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BASEBALL EXTRA

Good Time Was Had by All

Baseball: Angels get last laugh in series with giddy Mariners in 9-3 win. No homers for Griffey.

September 25, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seattle superstar Ken Griffey Jr. turned Wednesday night's meaningless Mariner-Angel game into his own Def Comedy Jam, playing manager for a day, penciling his name into the leadoff position and donning a Jim Edmonds jersey in the second inning, with his thigh, shoulder and head wrapped in ace bandages in honor of the oft-injured Angel center fielder.

Yep, the pressure of chasing Roger Maris' single-season home run record sure is getting to The Kid.

The Angels, on the other hand, played Griffey's straight man, starting five regulars--one (Edmonds) who crashed into the outfield wall in pursuit of a home run--stealing bases, trying to advance runners with sacrifice bunts, and generally treating the game as if it was important.

It showed. Ken Hill threw a seven-inning three-hitter with six strikeouts, Jack Howell and Chris Turner each homered, and Dave Hollins and Angelo Encarnacion each had three hits to lead the Angels to a 9-3 victory over Seattle's comedy troupe before 41,975 in the Kingdome.

Griffey went homerless in three at-bats against Hill before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the eighth, his pursuit of Maris' 61-homer mark still stuck on 55 with three games remaining.

While the Mariners started Griffey, Paul Sorrento and a bunch of guys you've never heard of, Edmonds, Hollins, Garret Anderson, Tim Salmon and Luis Alicea started for Angel Manager Terry Collins.

"Terry doesn't want us to shut it down," Salmon said. "We don't want to fold up our tents and end on a bad note. We want to give a good effort and not go through the motions. But that can be a difficult thing to do in these circumstances."

The Mariners seemed a bit hung over from their pennant-clinching celebration after Tuesday night's 4-3 victory, which brought as much relief as jubilation.

Seattle was touted as a World Series contender but struggled because of a marginal bullpen that blew 25 save opportunities.

"There is nobody in this clubhouse who didn't expect to win the West," reliever Norm Charlton said. "But this was a grind. To be honest, we were supposed to have put this thing away a long time ago. We wanted to get this thing over with, give some guys some rest and start preparing for the playoffs."

Conversely, the Angels were picked to finish third, and they remained in contention despite season-ending injuries to Chuck Finley and Todd Greene in August and Tony Phillips' 10-day absence after his drug arrest.

But as with the Mariners, the Angel ledger was littered with many late-season games that should have been won.

"Maybe in the off-season we'll think back on how we hung in there even though Seattle was so heavily favored and we weren't," Hollins said. "But we had our chances to make things closer. I think back to the games we gave away . . . then again, Seattle coughed up a lot of games they thought they had in the bag. Maybe that's just baseball."

The Angels returned to Anaheim on Wednesday night for a season-ending, four-game series against the Texas Rangers, and while they left Seattle with some bitter memories of the Mariners clinching against them, there was at least one promising development.

Edmonds, who had not faced Randy Johnson since the one-game playoff to determine the 1995 West champion, had two home runs and a single against the intimidating Mariner ace Tuesday night.

Does that mean Edmonds will now look forward to his next meeting against the Big Unit?

"No, never," he said. "I faced him enough in 1994 and '95. You don't need to face him too much."

Edmonds said he had no idea how he became only the ninth left-handed batter to homer off Johnson.

"It's just one of those things that happened," he said. "I was just trying to put the ball in play. I thought my first homer was just a line drive into the gap."

Will Tuesday night's performance give Edmonds confidence for the next time he faces Johnson?

"Games like that usually don't do much for me against other pitchers," Edmonds said. "I just don't want to make him too mad."

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