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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cincinnati Reds: Griffey ties HR record then wins game for Reds with another HR

Some have thought that Ken Griffey, Jr., was washed up in the past few years. Battling a plethora of leg injuries including hamstring problems that would lead most any athlete to call it quits, Junior quieted (but not silenced) the critics last year with 35 HR and 92 RBI. But an early-season stint on the DL caused some in Cincinnati to voice concern over Griffey’s defensive play in CF and whether he should move to LF or RF. While it seems that, too, has quieted down, it is apparent that Griffey’s bat is not remaining quiet for the Reds. After hitting a walk-off, game-winning homerun to beat Washington on May 11th in his first game back from the DL, Griffey began a stretch that would see him hit 5 HR with 21 RBI in 19 games in May.

So far in June he has connected for 5 HR and 10 RBI in just 3 games, including 2 HR and 4 RBI last night. The first of Griffey’s 2 HR came in the 5th inning as Junior homered in the 43rd ballpark of his career, tying Fred McGriff for the Major League Baseball record. Then Griffey came to the plate in the 9th with the Reds trailing 7-5 and St. Louis closer Jason Isringhausen on the mound. Junior sent the ball over the fence for the second time in the game giving the Reds their 5th straight win while cutting the St. Louis lead in the NL Central to just 2 games over the Reds.

With all of Griffey’s success comes the obvious question “can he stay healthy?” While that remains to be seen, it is obvious that the man that was once supposed to be the heir-apparent to Hank Aaron’s HR record is still producing when he is healthy. Griffey currently has 10 HR and 34 RBI in 31 games in 2006. At his current rate he is on pace to hit 44 HR with 149 RBI in just 136 games. If Junior can put season-ending numbers like that up he may just lead the Reds to a playoff berth in 2006. With 546 career homeruns, Griffey now trails former Ohio Bobcats and Philadelphia Phillies 3B Mike Schmidt for 11th on the career HR list.

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