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Ichiro a hit leading off
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07/13/2004 10:13 PM ET
Ichiro a hit leading off
Torre's faith in Mariners All-Star pays dividends
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Ichiro Suzuki doubled vs. Roger Clemens to lead off the All-Star Game. (Eric Gay/AP)
HOUSTON -- Joe Torre, who's been the manager of the American League All-Stars six times in the past eight years, has often been accused of playing favorites because his Yankees tend to make up a good portion of his All-Star rosters.

The 2004 AL team was no exception, with a full quarter of the 32-man roster hailing from the Bronx. But when it came time to write out his batting order for the 75th All-Star Game in Houston, Torre put his loyalties aside.

He could have gone with Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who led off for him on Opening Day. He could have gone with former New York second baseman Alfonso Soriano, who led all players in All-Star voting and led off for the Yankees in last year's World Series.

Instead Torre turned to Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, who rewarded the manager's faith by opening the game with a double off the wall in right field off National League starter Roger Clemens to start a six-run rally that helped the AL win 9-4.

Just another highlight for the most dynamic leadoff man in recent history. Ichiro didn't get any more hits in the game, and he left the AL clubhouse before the media was allowed in after the game, but that one swing in the first inning was enough to make his evening an overall success.

2004 All-Star Game

"Any time you get the leadoff guy on, especially a guy like Ichiro, good things usually happen," said Oakland's Mark Mulder, who started for the AL and got the win. "He makes things happen."

Torre said that Jeter, who batted behind Soriano atop the Yankees order in the 2003 Fall Classic, gave the Yankees skipper some good-natured ribbing about the batting order.

"[He said,] 'We were good enough to hit 1-2 in the World Series. How come we're not good enough now?," Torre revealed.

Torre's response?

"I said, 'Get away from me.'"

Mychael Urban is a national writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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