This has been a crazy year for the Mariners.
There was the 21-run explosion against the Rangers, the 6-pitcher no-hitter, the humbling perfect game by Philip Humber. Heading into this series, I was prepared for another crazy moment. Perhaps the Mariners would, like the suddenly-in-contention Athletics, sweep the Yankees.
What I did not expect to see, however, was Ichiro’s debut with the New York Yankees.
There is much left to say about his career with the Mariners, as Steven has already described in detail, so for now, I’ll focus just on this game.
Kevin Millwood graciously stepped off the mound as Ichiro approached the plate for his first at-bat, allowing the iconic former Mariner to tip his cap to the fans as they responded with loud cheers.
And then he laced a single into center field, and my heart sunk. This is what it feels like to see Ichiro as a Yankee.
For a while, the rest of the Mariners (barring a mournful Munenori Kawasaki) seemed unperturbed by the change. Casper Wells picked up a double to start the 1st, with Jaso and Montero handed free bases on a fielder’s choice and A-Rod’s error. In the 3rd, Dustin Ackley drew a walk, stole a base, and Jaso followed with an RBI single and stolen bag of his own.
In the final six innings, the Mariners reached base only one more time. It’s some consolation, as conflicted as I am, that Ichiro went 1-for-4 after that first emotional plate appearance. There is no part of me—or of any Seattle fan, I’d venture to say—that wants to see Ichiro fail, but it is still reassuring to know that he has not been magically bestowed with super-powers after putting that Yankees jersey on.
To Ichiro, I wish you the best. To the Mariners, I wish you’d win tomorrow.
Next game: vs. Yankees | July 24 | 7:10pm