But a day after hitting his 499th home run, Griffey can become the 20th player in major league history to join the 500-homer club as the Reds take on Eric Milton and the Philadelphia Phillies in a makeup game from an April 14 rainout.
In Sunday’s 10-8 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the Reds’ season-high sixth straight defeat, Griffey connected for his 18th homer—and 10th in 21 games— in the third inning, pulling a 1-1 pitch from Cliff Lee over the right-field wall.
Despite being a swing away from joining an elite group, Griffey thinks the focus on his 500th homer is hurting his team.
“It’s taking a toll on everybody,” Griffey said. “If we could just get it behind us, we’d be fine. Get the focus off me and the focus back on playing good baseball … The team always comes first.”
That alone is a victory for the 34-year-old outfielder, who’s struggled to stay in the lineup since joining in the Reds. After hitting 40 homers and driving in 118 RBIs in 2000, Griffey has played 111, 70 and 53 games, respectively, the last three seasons.
Although Griffey is healthy, his team is ailing. A loss Monday will leave the Reds 0-7 on their road trip.
As Milton goes for his fourth straight win, the Phillies have won four of five, including Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Despite his winning streak, Milton is coming off a rough outing in a 13-10 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Lasting five innings, Milton allowed a season-high six runs and nine hits, including four home runs.
“I tip my hat to my teammates. They picked me up again,” said the left-hander, who’s off to the best start of his career. “They have been doing it all year,”
In Sunday’s win, Billy Wagner struck out Matthew LeCroy in a 13-pitch at-bat with the tying run on second, earning his ninth save of the season and first since May 7. Wagner was on the DL with a strained left groin from May 14 to June 8 and has appeared in two non-save situations since returning.