M's Notebook | O'Flaherty gets best of his childhood idol
Eric O'Flaherty's favorite player while growing up in Walla Walla was Ken Griffey Jr. As an 8-year-old, he traveled with his family in 1993...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Eric O'Flaherty's favorite player while growing up in Walla Walla was Ken Griffey Jr.
As an 8-year-old, he traveled with his family in 1993 to see Griffey tie a major-league record by homering for the eighth straight game.
"My dad still has the ticket stub," O'Flaherty said.
On Sunday, in the seventh inning of Seattle's 3-2 win over Cincinnati, he stood on the mound with his idol at the plate, a moment that caused a brief pause.
"I usually don't look at the hitter when they come in the box," O'Flaherty said. "But I got a good look at him."
Then, in the kind of sequence he surely dreamed about during those years in Walla Walla, he struck out Griffey on three straight pitches — all called strikes — to end the inning and keep the score tied at 2. As the final strike was called, O'Flaherty jumped off the mound and pumped his fist.
"I had a lot of adrenaline going," he said.
The first pitch was a slider, O'Flaherty said, the last two fastballs. It was the only time in the game Griffey made an out, having homered twice and singled in his other at-bats.
Today | vs. Boston, 7:05 p.m., FSN | M's RHP Jeff Weaver (1-6, 8.56) vs. RHP Julian Tavarez (5-4, 4.50).
Tuesday | vs. Boston, 7:05 p.m., FSN | M's RHP Felix Hernandez (4-4, 4.00) vs. TBA.
Wednesday | vs. Boston, 1:35 p.m., FSN | M's LHP Ryan Feierabend (1-2, 8.20) vs. RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-5, 4.01).
Friday | vs. Toronto, 7:05 p.m., FSN | M's LHP Jarrod Washburn (6-6, 4.09) vs. RHP Dustin McGowan (4-3, 4.83).
Saturday | vs. Toronto, 7:05 p.m., Ch. 11 | M's RHP Miguel Batista (7-6, 4.85) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (8-2, 4.08).
"I've been thinking all weekend it would be great to face him," O'Flaherty said. "I was just happy to get him out of there."
When Seattle scored in the bottom of the inning and held on to the lead, O'Flaherty got the win, becoming just the fourth Mariner ever to start his career 4-0.
"One to remember," he said.
Griffey hit his first home run in the first inning with the Safeco Field roof open, and his second in the fifth after the roof was closed. It was shut when it began raining an inning earlier.
It was worth noting, for those who remembered, that the roof was considered one of Griffey's main grievances with Safeco Field — he was reported to have once asked for the roof to be closed, a condition in which the ball is considered to travel better. He was asked about that after Sunday's game.
"It's simple," Griffey said. "There were a bunch of guys who asked me, and I asked [Mariners president] Chuck [Armstrong], and he declined. He said the fans want it open. It didn't bother me. It started raining in the third inning and they closed it. But I took the heat for that, among other things."
Broussard flashes leather
Ben Broussard plays the outfield for the Mariners primarily as a way to get his bat in the lineup; his regular position of first base is usually occupied by Richie Sexson.
But on Sunday, he showed that he's beginning to become more comfortable out there, diving to make a highlight-reel catch of a liner off the bat of Brandon Phillips in the seventh inning in right-center field.
"Usually Ichiro is over there catching everything, so I don't usually catch too many balls on my right," said Broussard, who before this season hadn't played in the outfield in four years. "But we were playing Brandon to where [Ichiro] was shifted over a little bit.
"I got a good jump and looked at [Ichiro] and knew I had to make the play. I just saw it and reacted. Nobody was on base there, so I knew I could take a chance on it."
O'Flaherty then struck out Griffey to end the inning.
Jose Guillen was originally slated to play in the outfield, but was a late scratch with what Mariners manager Mike Hargrove described as tightness in his right arm. Hargrove said the injury is not related to the right elbow surgery Guillen had last season.
With Guillen out, the Mariners re-inserted Yuniesky Betancourt — who had been slated for a routine day off — at shortstop, putting Willie Bloomquist, who had been set for shortstop, in left field and Broussard in right.
Regular right fielder Raul Ibanez sat out due to a hamstring injury suffered Saturday night. Hargrove said Ibanez will probably be out three days.
• Sexson returned to the cleanup spot after having hit fifth or lower most of the past few weeks. Hargrove made the move with Sexson having hit nine home runs in the last 22 games and hitting .265 in his last 19 games. But Sexson went 0 for 4 Sunday.
• The game was the last in interleague play for the Mariners. Seattle finished 9-9.
• All three games of the weekend were sellouts, giving Seattle six for the season.
• The homers were Griffey's first against the Mariners; he has now homered against 29 teams. The Reds are the only team he has yet to homer against.
• Ichiro has a 19-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the majors. He hit .486 (35 for 72) in interleague play, second-best in the majors behind Atlanta's Matt Diaz (.519).
• J.J. Putz recorded his 23rd straight save, the longest active streak in the majors.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
For the record
vs. AL West: 12-10
vs. L.A.: 2-7
vs. Oakland: 4-1
vs. Texas: 6-2
vs. AL East: 9-7
vs. AL Central: 9-7
vs. NL: 9-9
vs. LHP: 14-6
vs. RHP: 25-27
Extra innings: 2-0
Sunday's crowd: 46,064
Season total: 1,086,016
Biggest crowd: 46,340 (June 22)
Smallest crowd: 16,555 (May 2)
Average (36 dates): 30,175
2006 average (36 dates): 26,906
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.