Even if Ichiro Suzuki does not play another game in his Major League career, he is now eligible for the Hall of Fame.
The first inning at-bat he had against the Athletics last night – a popup to third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff – gave Ichiro 10 years in the Major Leagues. So whenever he retires, even if it’s today, he will have qualified for HOF consideration.
Once a player retires, he must wait five years to be considered for HOF candidacy.
Several HOF voters already are on record of saying Ichiro is on the cusp of being a Hall of Famer, citing his MLB-record nine consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits. He also holds the single season hit record – 262 in 2004.
Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the season opener and scored a run in the ninth inning. It extended his personal hitting streak against Oakland to 21 games, during which he is batting .380 (35-for-92), started on August 24, 2008.
But it is not his longest hitting streak against an opponent.
He had a 26-game streak against the Royals from April 14, 2005 to April 15, 2008 and a 22-gamer against the White Sox from April 27, 2001 to May 11, 2003.
Meanwhile, it is a sunny day at the Oakland Coliseum where the Mariners will try to make it two wins in a row over the Athletics. Right-hander Ian Snell gets the starting nod against Oakland left-hander Dallas Braden.
In other news:
— Catcher Rob Johnson said the home run he hit last night was the first in his seven-year professional career that he homered on Opening Day/Night. “I lead the team in home runs,” he smiled.
— Johnson said a lot of the low pitches that Felix Hernandez (and other pitchers) threw last night would be called strikes, but plate ump Tim Tschida had a high strike zone.
“Tim was consistent for both teams, but Felix always keeps the ball down. Usually, those pitches are called strikes.”
The six walks Hernandez issued tied a single-game career high.
“It’s good to get that first game out of the way,” Johnson. “He was pretty amped.”
— Jim Street