Ken Griffey Jr. will go into baseball's record book alongside Dale Long and Don Mattingly. Not in front of them.
Griffey's fling with history ended in the seventh inning with his fourth at-bat against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night in a game the Seattle Mariners won 4-3.In his final chance to go into the major-league record book all by himself by hitting a home run in his ninth consecutive game, Griffey popped up to second baseman Chuck Knoblauch.
Griffey admitted he was thinking home run with that swing but he just went underneath left-hander Larry Casian's second pitch.
"On that last swing, I tried so hard to do it for the fans here," Griffey said. "I didn't want to let them down. I tried my hardest. That's all I can ask."
But he had a premonition his streak was going to end when he came to the Kingdome.
"I told Kirby Puckett right before batting practice that I didn't have it today," he told reporters. "I just didn't really have it."
A crowd of 45,607 that included a club-record 30,220 tickets sold on game day turned out in the Kingdome to see if Griffey could break a record he tied when he homered off Willie Banks of the Twins on Wednesday night.
Griffey singled in the first inning and doubled in the third off Scott Erickson. Erickson got him to ground out to second in the fifth.
On Griffey's final at-bat, Twins manager Tom Kelly brought Casian, a left-hander, in to replace Erickson. Griffey bats from the left side.
"I threw a slider for a ball," Casian said. "The second was a curve. On that last swing, I was hoping he'd get under it and he did."
On reflection of his feat of hitting home runs in eight consecutive games, the Mariners' 23-year-old star seemed happy his streak was over.
Griffey admitted he was overwhelmed by all the attention. Kent Hrbek of the Twins said Griffey has potential to do it again.
"Everybody wanted to talk about it and I really didn't," Griffey said. "I was just trying to concentrate and go on."
The Mariners won the game with a pair of runs in the seventh to reach .500 (51-51) for the ninth time this season.