But five pitchers manager Mike Hargrove, and his replacement John McLaren, used could not prevent the Mariners from absorbing their most lopsided defeat in the soon-to-be 8-year-old stadium that is known in these parts as "The House that Griffey Built."
The 15-run spread replaces the 12-run gap that formerly was the most lopsided loss at Safeco, which debuted halfway through the 1999 season -- Junior's final season with the Mariners.
He came back for the first time since then and was showered with kindness.
The Mariners stood in their dugout, watching the pregame ceremony and no doubt enjoying the show.
And then the game started, and the fun stopped.
The Mariners went into the Interleague series opener working on a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings pitched, featuring the first back-to-back shutouts in more than three years.
The streak never reached the 21 innings.
Left-hander Ryan Feierabend, making his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma for the second time, surrendered four runs in the first inning, two more in the second, and three in the third.
By the end of the third inning, he was on his way to taking an early shower. But he lasted longer than Hargrove, who was ejected in the top of the second inning for arguing, among other things, a check-swing on Reds first baseman Jeff Conine.
"I felt we were getting the short end of the stick," Hargrove said, "and Mike Winters won the argument," said Hargrove of the home-plate umpire. "They're good umpires and the bottom line is we gave up 16 runs tonight, and I don't care how bad of game an umpire has behind the plate, he's not going to affect 16 runs.
"It certainly wasn't the umpire's fault."
Nope. Blame the Reds for putting on an impressive offensive display the same night right-handed starter Aaron Harang also was at the top of his game. He subdued the Mariners on two hits over eight easy innings to pick up his eighth win in 10 decisions.
Hargrove spent most of the game in the video room behind the first-base dugout.
"There's a bomb shelter in there and the way [the Reds] swung the bats tonight, I was glad I was there," he said. "It was just one of those nights."
Catcher David Ross and second baseman Brandon Phillips each hit two home runs and Josh Hamilton added one. The Reds finished with 16 hits.
"It started bad and got worse," Hargrove added.
Feierabend wasn't quite sure what hit him. He said the pregame hoopla over Griffey's return wasn't a factor.
"I guess you could say so," he said when asked if that's about as bad as it gets. "They came to play tonight, hit the ball real well -- five or six home runs."
The young lefty usually has excellent control, but he walked five during his 2 2/3-inning outing.
"Basically, I was either not getting ahead in the count and when I was behind, I couldn't get back in the count or they were fouling off a lot of good pitches," he said. "I tried to expand the zone, the next thing I know it was 3-and-2 and ended up giving up a walk or throwing it over the middle of the plate."
He also passed it off as "one of those nights" and will now prepare for his next start against the Red Sox.
On a more positive note, center fielder Ichiro Suzuki singled in the fourth inning to extend his current hitting streak to 17 games. Seattle avoided a shutout in the fifth when Kenji Johjima walked, went to second on an infield out, to third on an error and scored on an infield out.
The game was so out of hand that Griffey played only six innings, departing after his third consecutive strikeout.
It was a night he won't soon forget.
"It was more than I expected; a lot more than I expected," Griffey said. "Awesome. If you had to put it in one word, it was something that, to have that many people, to cheer that long cheer was pretty unbelievable."
The cheering continued when he went into right field on defense.
"Every time I went out there, I had to wave," he said. "I recognized some of the people that were there when I played. It was pretty nice to see everybody out. There were probably 10-to-15 people that I recognized from the Kingdome out in the outfield."
Some of those same fans booed Conine, who replaced Junior. He politely tipped his cap.