Ichiro inches closer to 3,000th hit

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Ichiro Suzuki No.51 of the Miami Marlins gets his 2997th career hit during the eighth inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on Wednesday in Miami, Florida. AFP PHOTO

Ichiro Suzuki No.51 of the Miami Marlins gets his 2997th career hit during the eighth inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on Wednesday in Miami, Florida. AFP PHOTO

MIAMI: Ichiro Suzuki moved within three hits of his 3,000th Major League Baseball hit on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) with a one-for-five performance at the plate in the Miami Marlins’ 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

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The 42-year-old Marlins outfielder had already etched a piece of baseball history in June, when he took his total of professional hits past Pete Rose’s fabled record of 4,256 — more than 1,000 of which came while playing in Japan.

Ichiro, one of a few global sports icons predominantly known by his first name, sparked joy back home in Japan after overtaking Rose’s total — although some in the US, including Rose himself, have downplayed the achievement.

He has called the prospect of joining Major League Baseball’s 3,000 hit club a “no-brainer” but it will be a remarkable feat considering he was already 27 when he landed Stateside.

His start on Tuesday was his first since Thursday, with Marlins manager Don Mattingly saying it came primarily because of center fielder Marcell Ozuna’s recent batting slump.

Ichiro started Tuesday in his customary leadoff spot and almost homered in the game’s first at-bat, but Phillies outfielder Peter Bourjos crashed into the wall to make the catch.

The Japanese star recorded MLB hit 2,997 leading off the eighth for Miami, ending an 0-for-7 spell of frustration at the plate.

His base hit sparked a four-run inning that featured Giancarlo Stanton’s ground-rule double that gave the Marlins a 2-0 lead before Miami added three more runs in the inning on a two-run single by Adeiny Hechavarria and a double by Miguel Rojas.

Mattingly hasn’t confirmed whether Ichiro will start in Wednesday’s finale of the three-game series against Philadelphia.

But Stanton made it clear he and his teammates are pulling for him.

“When he got that hit it livened the place up a lot,” Stanton said.

AFP

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