Ken Griffey Jr. has been one of the hottest hitters in the National League over the past two weeks, but he will match up against one of the best pitchers in the American League all season in Dan Haren on Wednesday when the Cincinnati Reds complete their three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.
Griffey hit a third-inning homer in Tuesday’s 5-2 victory, his seventh in the last 12 games and 19th of the season. It also was the 582nd of his career, leaving him one behind Mark McGwire for seventh on the all-time list.
“You can have some great milestones and not win a championship, and that is every kid’s goal and my goal,” Griffey said. “We won. That’s the most important thing. I just do what I can. Some days are better than others. It’s about continuing to do the little things and eventually you’ll get one up and out.”
Griffey is hitting .341 (15-for-41) in his last 12 games, but Tuesday’s win was just the second in the last seven games for the Reds (28-44). With his first trip to Seattle since leaving the Mariners following the 1999 season looming after this game, he also moved into a tie for 18th on the all-time RBIs list with 1,652—and the last 500 have come with the Reds.
Haren (8-2, 1.64 ERA) is trying to match a career high by winning his ninth consecutive decision, which he established from May 31-Aug. 7, 2005. The right-hander has not lost since April 7, and has not allowed more than two earned runs in a start since April 13.
He allowed three runs—all in the first three innings—and six hits through seven innings in Oakland’s 14-3 win on Friday over the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he spent the first two years of his career.
“When I start moving too fast is when I start getting in trouble, and (Jason Kendall) came out and reminded me of that, and it settled me down and I pitched the way I’m supposed to pitch,” Haren told the Athletics’ official Web site.
Haren, whose ERA is the lowest in the majors, is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in one relief appearance and one start against the Reds. He last faced them in 2004 while he was with the Cardinals.
The Reds will close out the series sending Matt Belisle (5-5, 4.95) to the mound. Belisle is winless in his last three starts, during which he has a 7.64 ERA.
The right-hander was tagged for seven runs and nine hits in five innings on Friday against the Texas Rangers in a 7-6 loss. He has never faced the Athletics.
Belisle is trying to follow up an impressive performance by rookie Homer Bailey on Tuesday. Bailey didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning and only yielded one run and two hits in seven innings.
Reds starters came into Tuesday’s game having given up at least four runs in five of the last six games.