Although he’s been struggling at the plate recently, Ichiro Suzuki is one hit away from an impressive milestone.
Suzuki moved within one hit of the milestone with a triple in the seventh inning of Seattle’s 7-5 win over the Rangers (54-52) on Monday. He had 1,278 hits playing in Japan, where he was a three-time MVP with a .353 career batting average, and 1,721 in eight seasons with the Mariners.
“Whenever I play a game, I’m always nervous,” Ichiro said Sunday through an interpreter on the Mariners’ official Web site. “But in addition to that, the influence of the 3,000 hits does make me a little more nervous than usual.”
Suzuki, hitting .297 this season, has never finished with a batting average below .300 since joining Seattle (40-65) in 2001. He has been slumping since the All-Star break, batting .227 (10-for-44) despite going 3-for-8 with two triples in the last two games.
“Approaching 3,000 hits, self-doubt can creep in,” Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. “But I think he’s so strong mentally that he’s beyond that.”
Six of Seattle’s 11 hits Monday went for extra bases - one double, one triple and four home runs. Adrian Beltre hit two of the homers, including a go-ahead solo shot in the eighth inning.
“The guys battled,” Riggleman said. “There were big hits and we pitched out of trouble. There was a lot of good stuff out there.”
The Rangers opened a season-high 11-game homestand Monday with their fourth loss in six contests. They also lost All-Star shortstop Michael Young after the second inning when he suffered a small fracture in his right ring finger. He will likely miss five to seven days, but Young was more optimistic.
“No one knows,” Young said. “Once the swelling goes down, I’ll be back in there. That could be (Tuesday).”
Young, a five-time All-Star, is hitting .298 with eight home runs and 58 RBIs this season, and is batting .344 with 15 RBIs in July.
While it is unlikely Young will be available Tuesday, Hank Blalock could be back after sitting out Monday with an upset stomach. He was available as a pinch hitter Monday, according to the Rangers’ official Web site.
Luis Mendoza (2-4, 7.16 ERA) looks to help Texas bounce when he makes his first start in a week. Mendoza struggled his last time out against the Chicago White Sox, allowing six runs and nine hits in four innings of a 10-2 loss on July 22.
In the right-hander’s only appearance against the Mariners, he pitched two scoreless innings of relief on Sept. 30. Suzuki was 0-for-1 against Mendoza in that game.
Carlos Silva (4-12, 5.62) counters for Seattle. He has lost his last three decisions since beating San Diego on June 28, which snapped a personal seven-game losing streak.
Silva left his last start after three innings because of tightness in his lower back. He allowed four runs and four hits July 20 in a 6-2 loss to Cleveland.
The right-hander is 4-4 with a 4.11 ERA in 11 starts against the Rangers, going 1-2 with a 7.30 ERA in Arlington.
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