Fifteen years later, Ethier put on an impressive power display for Wakamatsu, hitting three home runs and driving in a career-high six runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers in an 8-2 victory over the Mariners on Friday night.
“I saw him as a young player at (Arizona State) and saw his talent there,” Wakamatsu said. “He hit three different pitches off three different pitchers, and that was awfully impressive.”
He made it 7-2 in the sixth with a drive into the right-field pavilion off Roy Corcoran(notes) after Russell Martin(notes) was hit by a pitch. The Dodgers’ right fielder capped his first three-homer game with a leadoff shot in the eighth off Miguel Batista(notes).
“It was a lot of fun. It’s something I never dreamed of before,” Ethier said. “It’s one of those unlikely things that’s a nice individual accomplishment, and if it helps the team and makes the outcome better for us, so be it. But I don’t expect home runs now just because of this.”
Ethier has hit 13 of his 14 homers this season at Dodger Stadium.
“It’s frustrating and something that I prefer not to think about,” he said. “But the guys on the team definitely reminded me of it tonight.”
It was Ethier’s fifth career multihomer game.
“It just looked like he was very comfortable tonight and very relaxed, and he had very live hands,” manager Joe Torre said.
“I think his home runs come in bunches, but that’s for everybody,” Torre said. “Obviously a three-run homer tonight his first time up, it puts you in a good place.”
Clayton Kershaw(notes) (5-5) allowed two runs and five hits over six innings and struck out eight, helping the defending NL West champions improve baseball’s best record to 48-26. The 21-year-old left-hander hasn’t given up more than five hits in any of his last 11 starts, but is only 5-3 during that stretch despite a 2.48 ERA in those eight outings.
Seattle’s Ichiro(notes) Suzuki had his sixth straight multihit game giving him a major league-leading 34 this season. The two-time AL batting champ played his first game at Dodger Stadium since March 23, when his two-run single in the 10th inning helped Japan capture its second straight World Baseball Classic championship.
Vargas gave up five runs and nine hits over 4 2-3 innings. The left-hander faced Los Angeles one other time in the regular season, winning 7-1 on Aug. 21, 2005, with a six-hitter for his only complete game in 29 big-league starts.
Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima(notes) was activated from the disabled list after missing 26 games because of a broken toe. He was 0 for 4 and grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fourth.
NOTES: After the game, the Dodgers optioned RHP Cory Wade(notes) to Triple-A Albuquerque so that LHP Eric Milton(notes) could be activated on Saturday to start against Seattle’s Felix Hernandez(notes). … After appearing in two games with Triple-A Albuquerque, suspended RF Manny Ramirez(notes) had a light workout Friday morning at Dodger Stadium before joining Class A Inland Empire for four more games. He is eligible to return from his 50-game ban next Friday at San Diego.