Ken Griffey Jr. now is on a pace to hit 162 home runs this season after opening the 2009 Seattle Mariners campaign with a fifth-inning clout over the right field fence, the 612th of his career. The poke punctuated the 6-1 M’s victory over the Minnesota Twins, which also featured something of a midseason-form performance by right-hander Felix Hernandez, two days shy of his 23rd birthday as he took the mound. King Felix gave up just a run on five hits, fanning six in eight innings.
The M’s line-up didn’t exactly have mastery over Twins prize lefty Francisco Liriano. But Seattle’s four hits included the Griffey dinger and another by new centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez, also on pace for 162. Unfortunately, if neither he nor Griffey puts one out Tuesday the pace drops to 81. If a home-run drought sets in, the pace for both outfielders could project to a more realistic 27 by the end of the week.
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