Just because Ichiro Suzuki joined the immortal 3,000-hit club last month, it did not meant the 40-something outfielder stopped doing what he does best – put a baseball in the field of play. The Miami Marlins may be on a bit of a slide these days, chasing four other teams for one of the two National League wild card berths, but Suzuki continues to climb the charts as one of the greatest hitters of all time.
Suzuki collected two hits in Wednesday night's 6-0 win over the Phillies at Marlins Park, and he established another benchmark in the process.
With his single off Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson in the fifth inning, Ichiro now has 3,021 career hits, which, according to Elias Sports Bureau, moves him into 26th place on Major League Baseball's all-time list, ahead of Rafael Palmeiro (3,020). Suzuki has been playing right field while the team awaits the full return of outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to the lineup. Stanton served as a pinch hitter Wednesday night, but it is not known when he will assume full duties in the field. The Marlins are cautious about letting the team’s home run leader run at full speed after a severe groin strain.
According to MLB.com, Ichiro was in left field and batting second on Wednesday. In the first inning, he tripled to right, pulling even with Palmeiro on the all-time hits list. He scored the Marlins' first run on Martin Prado's groundout to shortstop.
When the Marlins host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night, Suzuki will once again be in the Miami lineup, playing left field and batting second behind Dee Gordon. That kind of combination at the top of the order hopefully will get the middle of the lineup – including Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna – to move runners around the bases.
Suzuki’s assault on the record books has been one of the key ingredients to the team’s season. He entered 2016 just 65 hits short of the joining the hallowed fraternity and has shown despite his age, he still plays the game like he was a rookie. He hit a two-run, pinch-hit home run on Tuesday night. It was his first career pinch-hit blast.
Before Wednesday's game, Ichiro joked: "Pinch-hitting, that's one thing, but [Mets pitcher Bartolo] Colon had one homer this year, and I had zero. I'm glad I was able to get that one to tie him."
As of now, he is two hits short of tying Lou Brock for 25th on the all time list.