The defending AL batting champion went 2-for-4 and hit a pair of solo home runs to help the last-place Mariners to a 3-2 win over the Indians on Saturday.
After batting a pedestrian .243 (27-for-111) in June, the Japanese right fielder is hitting .385 (40-for-104) in July to raise his overall average 22 points to .316.
His .350 career average in July is the highest among active players.
The nine-time batting champion—seven in Japan, two in the majors—is within range of current league leader Johnny Damon of Boston (.340).
“To be able to do the things I do and win the title, that would be the best-case scenario,” Suzuki said. “But worrying about what others think or what kind of numbers I need to put up, I really don’t think that way. I want to be able to play my game.”
Suzuki’s fourth-inning leadoff home run broke a 75-year-old major league record, giving him 1,058 hits in his career, the most ever for a player in his first five big league seasons. Suzuki broke the mark set by Paul Waner from 1926-30. Waner reached 1,057 hits in 747 games, while Suzuki has played 737 games.
“I didn’t know about that record,” said Suzuki, who broke the single-season hit record last year with 262. “When I heard of this record I thought to myself, ‘Man, there’s a lot of records out there.”’
The home run was the longest of his career, a 428-foot shot off the windows of Safeco Field’s right-field second deck restaurant. It was the third multihomer game of Suzuki’s career.
“Ichiro is not a home run hitter,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “His whole game is hitting it on the ground, taking the extra base, stealing and scoring runs. But he has good pull power.
“Getting base hits is not an easy thing to do. If it was easy everyone would hit .300 or .400 and get 250 hits a year. Since he has been here in the states, he has been absolutely amazing.”
Seattle traded outfielder Randy Winn to San Francisco on Saturday for catcher Yorvit Torrealba and right-hander Jesse Foppert. The Mariners don’t know who will play left field with Winn’s departure, Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi said.
Raul Ibanez, who has been the team’s designated hitter this season, played left field Saturday.
Cleveland, which won the first two games of the series, fell to 7-10 since the All-Star break.