What a storybook ending to Thursday’s game: Junior off the DL hits the game-winning home run. Rob Butcher informs us that Ken Griffey Jr.’s game-ending home run was the first for a Major League player in his first game off the disabled list since Barry Larkin May 6, 2003, versus St. Louis. The last Reds player to win an extra-inning game with a homer was Adam Dunn, who beat the Expos with a three-run homer in the 10th inning on June 5, 2004.
The last time the Reds trailed by three runs in extra innings and came back to win, Johnny Bench hit a three-run home run to beat the Mets, 6-5. The date was June 5, 1973.
When I talked with Junior after the game, it was great to see such joy on his face. He loves to play, and after watching his teammates battle for the past month, he was happy to contribute to a win.
When we have extra innings, Marty and I usually call every-other inning. I call the evens, Marty has the odds, which is why he was the one who called Junior’s home run (a great call, by the way).
I always go down to the field level in the ninth inning to grab our "Star of the Game" right as the game is ending. Last night was one of those games in which I went down in the ninth, came back upstairs to call the 10th, thought about going back downstairs for the bottom of the 11th, with the Reds trailing. But I held out hope that the Reds might rally to tie it and force a 12th inning. I was more than happy to quickly make my way downstairs while Junior was still rounding the bases and grab him for an interview after he won it in the 11th.
On the road, it can be tough for me to get back upstairs to call extra innings after I’ve gone downstairs in the ninth. At home games, all of the ushers and attendants take care of me and hold the elevator for me. On the road, I’m "on my own," so I often can’t get upstairs and downstairs in time for extra frames.
While we’re talking about broadcasting, I’m pleased to report that the Ol’ Lefthander will be in the booth Sunday. Marty and Joe will call Sunday’s game with the Phillies on Mother’s Day.