The Seattle Mariners will ask Kevin Millwood to stop the losing tonight when they face the San Francisco Giants in hope of snapping a six-game losing streak.
They're also hoping the Ichiro Suzuki of an earlier version will ignite a Mariners offense that has not shown itself during their home stand. That hope is a long shot, indeed.
It's not just that Ichiro is batting .259, although that certainly isn't what the team is looking for atop its lineup. Nor is it merely his .286 on base percentage. Rather it's Ichiro's approach. Last night in a key situation - runners in scoring position - Ichiro swung at a low pitch and popped it up.
It was the first pitch thrown to him in that at-bat, and a pitch he obviously did nothing with. Earlier in the home stand, with the bases loaded, a sacrifice fly from Ichiro would have tied the game. Instead, he swung down on a pitch and hit a one-hopper to third base, forcing a runner at the plate.
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Being Ichiro, no one is quite certain what he's thinking at the plate these day - or thinking anywhere else, for that matter. After the game Friday, for instance, a writer approached to ask questions - but Ichiro's translator, Antony Suzuki, wasn't available.
Ichiro doesn't need a translator at this point in his career, but that's beside the point. He won't talk without one, and most of Antony Suzuki's duties appear to be in saying Ichiro is unavailable. So it goes.
Here's tonight's lineup:
Ichiro Suzuki RFCasper Wells LFKyle Seager (L) 3BJesus Montero CMichael Saunders CFJustin Smoak 1BDustin Ackley 2BJohn Jaso DHBrendan Ryan SSKevin Millwood RHP