Mariners 9, Rangers 5
SEATTLE (AP)—Ichiro Suzuki’s May could make Seattle’s summer worth something.
Suzuki extended his hitting streak to a career-high 24 games and the Mariners held on to beat the Texas Rangers 9-5 on Thursday night.
“He’s a special player. I don’t think he should surprise any of us,” said Seattle manager Mike Hargrove, whose longest hitting streak when he played in the majors was 23 games. “I’ll tell you what, when you get up in the 20s in a hitting streak, you start thinking about it. But Ichiro is Ichiro. He keeps going about his business the same way.”
Gerald Laird hit a three-run homer and Frank Catalanotto had a two-run double for Texas, which lost for the eighth time in nine games to fall a season-low 16 games under .500. The Rangers lost a team-record 20 games in May.
Texas slugger Sammy Sosa struck out four times and remains stuck on 598 career homers.
Suzuki is the main reason why Seattle, the AL West’s last-place finishers in each of the previous three seasons, has won seven of 10 games, is two games above .500 and within 4 1/2 games of the division-leading Los Angeles Angels entering June.
Suzuki, who also swiped a base and scored two runs, is batting .411 during his streak. He had 46 hits and an AL-best 13 stolen bases in 30 games in May, and batted .357 in the month.
And that average was 16 points lower than his career mark for the month entering this season.
“It’s better than being called ‘Mr. March,”’ Suzuki said through an interpreter, chuckling over his May results.
Suzuki said the fact he’s in the last year of his deal without any serious talks yet on a new Seattle contract—he has acknowledged thoughts on possibly entering free agency after this season—gives no added importance to his strong start.
“If I were going off that thought process, I would have to be ‘Mr. March,’ getting hot even before the season begins,” he said. “But in the game of baseball, you are not able to control those things.”
Suzuki led off the bottom of the first with a base hit to tie Joey Cora (1997) for the best hitting streak in team history. Jose Guillen reached on a one-out single off Vicente Padilla (2-8), who then walked Raul Ibanez to load the bases. Richie Sexson followed with a two-run single. Johjima’s first base hit made it 3-0.
Beltre, Betancourt and Suzuki all had run-scoring singles in the third and Jose Vidro drove in a run with a groundout to extend the lead to 7-0.
When asked how he thought he pitched, Padilla snapped back, “How do you think?”
Cha Seung Baek (3-2) sailed into the fourth before Texas broke through for five runs against the Mariners starter. Catalanotto doubled in Sosa and Mark Teixeira and Laird hit his third homer of the season.
But the standout rookie responded by striking out Sosa on a 96 mph fastball and getting Catalanotto to ground out to extend his scoreless streak to 16 1-3 innings. The night before, the fifth overall pick in last June’s draft struck out Vladimir Guerrero, also with the bases loaded.
Padilla allowed nine hits and seven runs in three innings. He has given up six or more runs in six of his 12 starts.
“We’ve got to pitch better—especially your No. 2 guy,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “(Padilla) is supposed to be your No. 2 guy … you expect him to keep you in the game.”
Lofton went hitless on his 40th birthday. … Teixeira played in his 500th consecutive game, second longest streak in the major leagues behind Miguel Tejada’s 1,134.
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