Now that he’s accustomed to his new spot in the lineup, Ken Griffey Jr. looks to steal the spotlight from Barry Bonds when the Cincinnati Reds play host to the San Francisco Giants in the opener of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Griffey was dropped from the cleanup spot for the first time in 14 years on Thursday, and responded by homering and driving in a season-high five runs to lead the Reds to a 9-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. The win was Cincinnati’s third in four games.
“That was awesome,” teammate Sean Casey said. “That’s one of those games he can play. He was on everything all night. He hit rockets every time up.
“That’s the type of player he is. He can take over a game.”
Griffey went 3-for-5 while hitting fifth, his lowest slot in the lineup since June 22, 1990, for Seattle at Texas. He missed the previous two starts because of a tight right hamstring and began the night batting only .226. Griffey’s home run snapped a streak of 67 at-bats without one, his longest drought since going 79 at-bats in May 1993.
The Giants, meanwhile, enter the game slumping, after being swept in a three-game series by the New York Mets this week. Bonds missed the first two games of the series with a sinus infection, before returning on Thursday to go 0-for-3 with two intentional walks in the Giants’ 2-1 loss.
The defending NL West champions are now six games out of first place in the division, with losses in eight of their last 10 road games. The Giants return home after their series with the Reds for a six-game homestand.