Junior ties The Babe

You probably didn’t know this — and the man himself probably didn’t know this — but Ken Griffey Jr. tied Babe Ruth during Thursday’s game against the Royals.

Griffey hit his 506th career double in the 3-1 loss to the Royals. Next up is Rickey Henderson, who ranks 41st on the all-time list with 510 two-baggers.

Junior has hit three doubles in his past five games.

If he hits two home runs during this three-game series, Griffey would tie Jim Thome for most home runs by an opponent at the Metrodome. Thome has 27 and Junior checks in with 25, including one this season.

Another little known fact: Hall of Fame announcer Dave Niehaus reached the 5,000-mark for the number of Mariners games he has broadcast. Congrats. He doesn’t look a day over….never mind. He looks good and sounds good for a just-barely senior citizen.

Food for thought: The Mariners head into tonight’s series opener against the Twins with four runs scored in their past three games. The Red Sox scored 12 runs in ONE inning on Thursday.

More food for thought: The Mariners are 10-3 when scoring four or more runs and 5-11 when touching home plate three or fewer times.

I’m waiting for any news regarding right-hander Carlos Silva and what kind of plans the team has for him — keep him the rotation; re-assign him to the bullpen; put him on the DL with “mental fatigue”; or something else.

Stay tuned on that one.

Tonight also will be the final game withough closer Brandon Morrow. He will be activated prior to Saturday night’s game.

Just returned from the pre-game media session with Wakamatsu and there was nothing new of Silva. He is still scheduled to start one of the games against the Rangers in Arlington.

Meanwhile, left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith had a bullpen session and will pitch a simulated game on Tuesday in Texas — a two-inning, 30-pitch outing at The Ballpark in Arlington. He will take a day off, throw another BP session on Thursday, and then go to Peoria, Ariz., for extended Spring Training.

Wakamatsu explained that it would be easier to monitor his progress there and build him back into baseball shape instead of sending him out a rehab assignment with a Minor League team. That being said, Rowland-Smith eventually will have at least one rehab start, getting up to about 75 pitches before returning to the Mariners.

That could be in about three weeks.

The pre-game hitters meeting was mostly about being more patient at the plate. Wakamatsu told the hitters he would like to see more innings like the ninth inning in Thursday’s game in Kansas City.

Some of the best at-bats in the past several days occurred in that inning and even though they scored just one run, the improvement in patience was noticed. He said the hitters are “trying too hard” to do the job instead of just relaxing and letting their natural ability take over.

The exact same thing happened last season and it got progressively worse as the losses mounted.

Among the lineup changes tonight: Endy Chavez moved back into the No. 2 spot and Griffey batted sixth, behind Adrian Beltre.

From top to bottom:

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chavez, LF

3. Jose Lopez, 2B

4. Russell Branyan, 1B

5. Beltre, 3B

6. Griffey, DH

7. Kenji Johjima, C

8. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

9. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

P — Chris Jakubauskas

— Jim Street


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