OAKLAND, California (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki took Gio Gonzalez’s first offering for a ball. He drilled the second pitch down the right field line for a double and his 2,000th career hit.
The Mariners’ outfielder, who accumulated 1,278 hits in Japan, became the second fastest to 2,000 hits, recording it in his 1,402nd major-league game. Al Simmons did it in game 1,390.
Even before the ball fell in front of the Seattle bullpen, fans stood to cheer for the Japanese baseball icon, who led off a game with a hit for the 436th time.
“The game is international and even though there were players from Japan before him, he’s the one you think about first,” A’s manager Bob Geren said following last Saturday night’s win over the Mariners. “He’s big over there, and he’s made our game bigger here. There’s a big turnout wherever he goes, and that’s good for the game.”
Suzuki has 128 hits in Oakland, his favorite road park. His 227 hits against the A’s is his second highest number, behind the 239 he’s earned against the Texas Rangers.
Suzuki, the 259th player to reach the milestone, needs five hits for 200 on the season, which would break the record he shares with Willie Keeler for consecutive seasons (9) with 200 hits.
“He’s really done a lot for the game,” A’s second baseman Mark Ellis said. “He has a big following not just from Japanese fans, but from American fans too. They love Ichiro and love his style. He’s definitely fun to watch.” ♦