Just minutes after Mariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen got Johnny Giavotella to ground out to complete a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, the 44,812 fans at Safeco Field rose to their feet and cheered for a game going on more than 1,300 miles away.
The Mariners played a clip on their giant videoboard of Ichiro Suzuki, batting for the Miami Marlins against the Colorado Rockies in Denver, as he became the 30th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 career hits — launching a triple off the right field wall.
Mariners players watched it from the dugout, clapping. Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln released a statement.
“On behalf of the Seattle Mariners organization and the fans of the Northwest, I would like to congratulate Ichiro on his 3,000th hit in Major League Baseball,” Lincoln said. “It’s another historic achievement in his great career … one of his several Hall of Fame credentials.”
Coincidentally, it came on the final day of Ken Griffey Jr.’s celebration weekend in which the Mariners retired his No. 24 two weeks after he became the first player to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Mariner.
Suzuki had 2,533 of those 3,000 hits in 12 seasons in Seattle, where he made his MLB debut in 2001 as a 27-year-old rookie.
And he had 262 of those 3,000 hits in the 2004 season — an MLB single-season record.
“Ichiro’s contributions to the Mariners’ franchise were immeasurable,” Lincoln said. “Beginning with his American League MVP award season in 2001, he provided the fans of the Northwest with many great moments and memories, highlighted in 2004 when he set the all-time, single-season record with 262 hits.
“When you consider also what he accomplished in Japan, Ichiro was and is an international baseball superstar.
“Prior to Ichiro’s first game for the Mariners in 2001, the late Pancho Ito, a Japanese baseball broadcaster and historian, said, ‘He is a genius with the bat.’ Mr. Ito was absolutely correct.
“A tip of the Mariners’ cap to Ichiro.”
Before Sunday’s game, the Mariners called up utility man Mike Freeman from Triple-A Tacoma and activated right-hander Nick Vincent from the disabled list.
Freeman then recorded his first two major league hits, finishing 2 for 3.
Freeman, a Clemson graduate, was proud of a pair of cowboy boots in his locker in the clubhouse, maybe a testament to his style of play.
“I play the game hard, and I like to get dirty,” he said.
Vincent went to the disabled list on June 23 with a back strain, and pitched a scoreless inning in a rehab appearance with Short-A Everett on Friday.
To clear space, infielder Luis Sardinas and right-hander Cody Martin were optioned to Tacoma.
CANO GETS DAY OFF
Robinson Cano got the day off, not playing for the first time in 167 games, dating to last season.
That was the longest active-games-played streak in the majors.
Cano only needed to play in 2,465 more consecutive games to match Cal Ripken Jr.’s major league record.
It was Griffey’s rookie year — Aug. 8, 1989 — and the Mariners twice rallied in a 6-4 victory in 10 innings against the host Angels.
Jeffrey Leonard hit two home runs and Randy Johnson got the start and went eight innings.
A day after retiring Griffey’s No. 24 — making him the first player from the organization to have his number retired — the Mariners capped their Griffey celebration weekend with the first 20,000 fans receiving a replica of Griffey’s 1989 rookie season jersey. ... On Sunday, 44,812 fans showed up. There were 40,354 on Friday and 45,618 on Saturday. … Wade LeBlanc was officially named the Seattle starter for Tuesday’s game against Detroit. … Wilhelmsen recorded his first save of the season, filling in for Edwin Diaz, who was off after getting four saves in the previous five games. Wilhelmsen, who had a career-high 29 saves for the Mariners in 2012, has a 2.19 ERA in 12 1/3 innings since returning to Seattle on June 23, after he had a 7.49 ERA in 33 2/3 innings with the Texas Rangers.
Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (12-7, 3.99 ERA) kicks off a three-game home series at 7:10 p.m. Monday against the Tigers, who will start right-hander Michael Fulmer (9-2, 2.42). Detroit is 3 1/2 games ahead of the Mariners for the final wild card playoff spot.
The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710-AM.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677