Ichiro Suzuki was lost to the New York Yankees this week, but at least he didn't have much to do with the Yankees taking two of three from them this week. Ichiro went 1 for 5 at the bat and didn't really have an impact in New York's 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners today.
With the Mariners holding a 2-1 lead in the top of the eight, the Yankees made their move. Derek Jeter was hit by a pitch, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira both had singles to load the bases, then pinch-hitter Jayson Nix doubled deep into left-center field to empty the bases and give New York a 4-2 lead. Russell Martin would eventually drive in Nix to make it 5-2, and the Yankees relief pitching took care of the rest.
Jeter had an early home run and went 3 for 4 at the bat. Meanwhile the Yankees pitching staff allowed only three hits against a feeble Mariners hitting squad. Kyle Seager (RBI walk) and Mike Carp (RBI fielder's choice) brought in the only runs for Seattle.
The evening got off to an uneasy start as Hernandez gave up a home run to Robinson Cano in the top of the first for a quick 1-0 Yankees lead. Michael Saunders was able to tie it up in the bottom of the inning with a home run of his own; his 10th of the season.
The third inning was the big one for the Mariners. Brendan Ryan singled to lead off the inning, Two batters later, Saunders hit a single to right field and Ryan challenged Ichiro, going first-to-third and beating the throw. Jesus Montero then hit a broken-bat blooper to right field, scoring Ryan. Saunders also challenged Ichiro, going first-to-third and again making it in well ahead of the throw. John Jaso then brought Saunders home with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1 Mariners.
Mark Teixeira hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth to bring the Yankes back to within a run, but Kyle Seager provided the insurance in the bottom of the eighth with -- what else? -- a two-out RBI single.
Hernandez was uncharacteristically wild throughout the game and hit three batters -- Suzuki, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez had to leave the game after being hit in the hand in the eighth inning and is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fracture.
Suzuki was 1-for-3 with a double off of Hernandez.
The Mariners will have an opportunity to win the series on Wednesday as they say goodbye to Ichiro -- perhaps for good.
It was a surreal night at Safeco Field on Monday. That's putting it mildly, actually. It was downright bizarre. For the first time in his MLB career, Ichiro Suzuki was in the visitor's dugout in Seattle. He wore New York Yankees road greys with the number "31" on the back ... and, as is Yankees custom, no name. The Seattle Mariners came up on the losing end against their longtime hero, dropping the opener of this emotional three-game series by the final score of 4-1.
It was a night of gracious, tearful and respectful ovations for Suzuki, who was cheered when announced as a member of the New York starting lineup and later received a lasting, heartfelt standing ovation when he came to bat for the first time in the game and the first time as something other than a member of the Mariners. The ovation lasted so long that Suzuki doffed his helmet and thanked the crowd, bowing deeply. He then singled off of Kevin Millwood and stole a base, to more applause -- although by the time he stole second, the ovation was slightly mixed. This is to be expected, of course. It is a confusing thing to cheer lustily for the opponent, no matter how beloved.
And there can be no mistake about it, Ichiro was and will continue to be endlessly beloved by the Seattle fans. That much is certain. He recorded no further hits in the game and left two on base as the Yankees' No. 8 hitter, but from his emotional and moving speech prior to the game, to the final out, the love for the future Hall of Famer was undeniable at Safeco.
As for the game -- John Jaso drove in the first run (and the only Mariners run) with a single in the third inning, but the top of the fourth proved to be the difference, as the Yankees plated three runs against Kevin Millwood, on RBI hits from Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez (another old friend) and Andruw Jones. A leadoff home run in the top of the eighth from another familiar face -- Alex Rodriguez -- added a big insurance run for New York.
Ichiro put away a pop fly from Jesus Montero for the final out of the game and a fitting end note to begin this series.
Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda held the Mariners to just three hits and one walk in seven innings.