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Rangers drop opener in Seattle10/01/2004 11:42 PM ET
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- While Ichiro Suzuki basked in a historic spotlight Friday night at Safeco Field, the Rangers were reduced to stage props.
Ichiro did what the Seattle fans came to see and he did it early. Singles in the first, third and sixth innings gave him 259 hits this year, breaking the Major League record set by George Sisler in 1920. The record-breaking 258th hit, a sharp grounder to the left of shortstop Michael Young, sent the Mariners roaring out of their dugout toward first base for an impromptu celebration party. The game was halted for several minutes as Ichiro acknowledged the fans, accepted hugs from his teammates and headed for the first-base box seats for a visit with the Sisler family.
The Rangers were leading, 2-0, at the time, but Ichiro's record-setting single triggered a string of seven consecutive hits by Seatttle. That barrage translated into a six-run inning and set the tone for an 8-3 Seattle victory.
"He's a very talented athlete," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "Probably the only guy who would have a chance to break that record would be him. He just makes a living out of hitting the ball where people can't throw him out, or [where they] don't play."
Rangers right-hander Ryan Drese was staked to a 2-0 lead in the first on Mark Teixeira's two-run homer. Ichiro tied Sisler's record leading off the Mariners first when he bounced a single over the head of a drawn-in third baseman Hank Blalock. Drese eventually got out of a bases-loaded jam with the aid of a double-play ball. But when Ichiro singled again in the third and Drese had to stand around waiting for the celebration to end, the game quickly got out of hand from a Texas standpoint.
Drese, who finished the season 14-10, was knocked out early in his last two starts and may have run out of steam after working 205 2/3 innings entering his last game of the year. He lasted just two-plus innings on Friday, allowing 10 hits and six earned runs.
After Ichiro's record-setter, Drese quickly surrendered hits to Randy Winn, Edgar Martinez, Raul Ibanez, Bret Boone and Jeremy Reed. The Mariners kept it going against reliever John Wasdin as Greg Dobbs singled in a run that made it 5-2. An RBI forceout by Dan Wilson completed the six-run uprising.
It was a big night for the Mariners in general, but the crowd of 45,573 was focused only on Ichiro, who will try to pad his record total in the final two games.
"It was an honor to be here to see it," Showalter said. "I just wish I had been in the stands instead of in the dugout."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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