Before Felix Hernandez's night turned painful, he provided one of the great Mariners highlights of the season. Granted, that's faint praise...
NEW YORK — Before Felix Hernandez’s night turned painful, he provided one of the great Mariners highlights of the season.
Granted, that’s faint praise, but his second-inning grand slam — off Johan Santana, no less — was one for the books.
It was the first homer of any kind by a Mariners pitcher, and the first grand slam by an American League pitcher since Cleveland’s Steve Dunning vs. Oakland on May 11, 1971.
But it wasn’t the first grand slam by a pitcher — technically, a former pitcher — who happened to be at Shea Stadium on Monday, wearing a Mariners uniform.
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That would be Hernandez’s pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre, who hit a grand slam in the very same city on July 20, 1965, when he pitched for the Yankees.
Oh, one thing about Stottlemyre’s: It was an inside-the-park salami.
“I remember a lot about it,” Stottlemyre said. “It was in the [Yankee] stadium, the ball was hit to left-center field, against Boston, a real hot day in July. The pitcher was Bill Monbouquette. Those things you don’t forget.”
Hernandez is not likely to forget what he termed his first homer since Little League. What did he think when he hit it?
“That’s four RBIs. That’s all,” he said. “I was happy. I said, ‘We scored four runs, good. That’s all I need, four runs.’
“I closed my eyes anyway. My approach? Just swing.”
Santana agreed with Felix’s lighthearted assessment. The pitcher said he purposely threw it high and outside because he figured that Hernandez — 1 for 8 with six strikeouts as a hitter in his career — would chase it. He chased it, and connected to the opposite field, with authority.
“It seemed like when he swung, he closed his eyes,” Santana said.
The reaction of Mariners teammates was a little more giddy.
“We were all excited and pumped up when he hit the home run,” Mariners reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith said of the reaction in the bullpen. “We were all jumping around and going crazy. I was stoked for him.”
Stottlemyre could share bragging rights with Hernandez, but he had to share his accomplishment — an inside-the-park grand slam — with someone else who happened to be at Shea Stadium on Monday. That would be Dan Wilson, who hit the only inside-the-park grand slam in Mariners history in 2003.
• Brandon Morrow was back with the team Monday, having flown to New York on Sunday after recovering from a back spasm.
He said he hurt himself while picking up balls after pitchers’ batting practice Wednesday at Safeco Field.
“I just went down to pick up a couple of balls and I had to start bending down and picking them up like this,” he said, mimicking a painful motion.
He was not going to pitch Monday under any circumstances but should be ready to close tonight.
• Left-hander Erik Bedard, still bothered by a sore back, was officially scratched from Wednesday’s start, and it is possible he might have to go on the disabled list for the second time this season.
“I don’t think we’re thinking that way yet,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “With an off-day Thursday, who knows? Maybe he can come back shortly after the off day.”
However, Stottlemyre said he didn’t have Bedard penciled in for the Mariners’ weekend series in San Diego.
For the record
vs. AL West: 10-14
vs. L.A.: 3-6
vs. Oakland: 3-2
vs. Texas: 4-6
vs. AL East: 8-17
vs. AL Cent.: 4-10
vs. NL: 5-8
vs. LHP: 6-13
vs. RHP: 21-36
Extra innings: 2-2