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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mariners get off to nice start

Photo gallery: Baseball Opening Day

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Ken Griffey Jr. homered in his first game back with Seattle. The Mariners won, 6-1.

ANN HEISENFELT | Associated Press

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MINNEAPOLIS The cheers and laughs were loud in Seattle's clubhouse, and manager Don Wakamatsu was doused in beer. The Mariners started this season with plenty to celebrate.

Ken Griffey Jr. celebrated his second stint with Seattle by hitting an opening-night home run to back Felix Hernandez in a 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins yesterday.

"That was unbelievable," said Wakamatsu, baseball's first Asian-American manager. "Griffey and the boys ... just kind of congratulated me and then gave me a little shower. Pretty special to go through spring training and then start the year off with a win like this."

Franklin Gutierrez had a two-run homer against Francisco Liriano (0-1) as the Mariners took the first step toward forgetting the futility of last year. Hernandez threw 97 pitches in eight innings, making his manager proud.

Hernandez (1-0) struck out six, yielding one run, five hits and three walks.

"That's what we wanted out of him ... to come out and pitch with some heart," Wakamatsu said.

Seattle, 61-101 last season, spoiled the final of 28 openers in the Metrodome's history. The Twins move to open-air Target Field next spring.

Griffey hit a solo homer to right against Liriano in the fifth.

Griffey's 41 homers against Minnesota are his most against any opponent, a remarkable number given his nine years in the National League. His eighth opening-day home run matched a major league record and gave him 612 for his career.

BLUE JAYS 12, TIGERS 5:

Adam Lind homered and drove in six runs, Roy Halladay (1-0) pitched seven strong innings and host Toronto beat Detroit in an opener delayed when fans littered the field. Umpires waved both teams off the field for nine minutes in the bottom of the eighth after two balls were thrown from the stands in the direction of Tigers left fielder Josh Anderson.

ANGELS 3, ATHLETICS 0:

Joe Saunders pitched into the seventh inning and Howie Kendrick homered and singled in another run, leading host Los Angeles over Oakland. Saunders yielded three hits over 6 2/3 innings in his first opening-day assignment. Jose Arredondo, Scot Shields and newcomer Brian Fuentes combined to finish the three-hitter.

RANGERS 9, INDIANS 1:

Hank Blalock hit a three-run homer off Cliff Lee and Kevin Millwood pitched seven sharp innings to lead host Texas. Millwood (1-0) allowed one run and five hits. The Rangers had 15 hits against four pitchers, including Jarrod Saltalamacchia's solo homer in the eighth.