OAKLAND, Calif. – Ichiro Suzuki was more pleased with the timing of his clutch swing than securing another Seattle record.
Ichiro became the Mariners’ career hits leader with two infield bouncers Saturday night, including an RBI single in the ninth that plated the go-ahead run in a 5-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
“I wasn’t thinking about my base hit,” Ichiro said after signing his jersey and a pair of batting gloves to mark his milestone achievement. “I wanted that run. That’s what was more on my mind than the hit.”
On the 10th anniversary of his major league debut, Ichiro reached on an infield single in the third, then did it again with his record-breaking hit off Brian Fuentes that drove in Jack Wilson and made it 3-2 Mariners.
Ichiro has 2,248 hits, one better than close friend Edgar Martinez’s previous club record.
“Today I broke his record (and) when you look at the numbers, that’s a fact,” Ichiro said. “But he’s a hero back in Seattle. He’s my hero as well. I played with Edgar for years and that’s something that’s important to me. That’s precious.”
Chris Ray (1-0) earned the win despite giving up the tying run, and Brandon League pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.
Daric Barton had three hits for the A’s, who are off to a 0-2 start for the second time in the last 13 years.
The Mariners nearly wasted a solid effort by starter Jason Vargas, who pitched five-hit ball into the seventh inning. But Wilson and Milton Bradley had two hits apiece and Seattle’s franchise player came with another big play.
After tying Martinez’s record with his hit off Brett Anderson, Ichiro was retired in each of his next two at-bats before driving in Wilson with a grounder to first. Barton fielded the ball cleanly but had no chance to get Ichiro and instead threw wildly to home as Wilson scored.
“He’s a presence at the top of the lineup and if you can keep him off base it’s a lot better,” Anderson said of Ichiro. “But he has so many hits for a reason. He’s a big part of their offense.”
Chone Figgins added a sacrifice fly as Seattle broke it open with three runs.
The Mariners scored in the sixth and seventh to take a 2-1 lead. Former A’s designated hitter Jack Cust drove in Bradley with an RBI single and Michael Saunders had a tiebreaking sacrifice fly.
Anderson allowed one run and five hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked one while throwing 108 pitches.
Vargas departed with two outs in the seventh and a 2-1 lead. The left-hander struck out six and walked one.
David DeJesus had a run-scoring grounder in the third, but Vargas responded by retiring 12 of the next 14 hitters.
Oakland tied it at 2 in the eighth. Coco Crisp reached on an infield single off Ray and moved to second on Barton’s third hit of the night. He stole third before scoring on Josh Willingham’s single.
E—Barton (2). LOB—Seattle 7, Oakland 7. 2B—Figgins (1), Ryan (1), Barton 2 (2). RBIs—I.Suzuki (2), Figgins (2), Cust (2), M.Saunders (1), DeJesus (1), Willingham (3). SB—I.Suzuki (3), Bradley (1), Crisp (1). CS—Ryan (1). S—M.Saunders. SF—Figgins, M.Saunders. RLSP—Seattle 3, Oakland 4. RMU—Bradley, Cust, Moore, DeJesus, Matsui.
|J.Wright H, 1||1/3||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Ray W,1-0 BS,1||1||3||1||1||0||0||9.00|
|League S, 1-1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Fuentes L, 0-1||1||3||3||2||0||0||18.00|
IR-S—J.Wright 1-0, Balfour 1-0. IBB—Smoak. WP—Fuentes . T—2:58. A—15,088 (35,067).