Pete Rose might scoff, but Ichiro Suzuki is bearing down on the hit king’s all-time mark — albeit with a caveat.
Suzuki collected three hits on Monday in the Marlins’ 13-4 lopsided victory over the Padres, giving him 2,977 for his major league career. Add in the 1,278 hits he put up in Japan, and the grand total comes to 4,255.
That’s one shy of Rose’s all-time big-league record of 4,256.
“I think people that are watching are the ones that are really thinking about it,” Suzuki said. “I’m just out there doing what I need to do, and what I can do.”
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Rose took some umbrage with the achievement, telling USA Today in an article published on Monday that “the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high-school hits.”
“It sounds like in Japan they’re trying to make me the Hit Queen,” Rose told the publication.
It’s certainly making news there.
“I kind of guessed, because I see people that I don’t know — the media that’s here — but I’m just going out and doing what I can,” Suzuki said.
Nearly 50 Japanese media members were credentialed for Monday’s game, and the 42-year-old icon treated them to a vintage night.
“There are, I guess, a little more media that’s here now, so hopefully I can get it (the Rose mark) fast so that they can go back home,” Suzuki said.
Suzuki, who was starting in place of slumping Giancarlo Stanton, reached base in each of his first four trips to the plate with two singles and a pair of walks. Two of his hits came in the Marlins’ 7-run third inning when the Marlins sent 12 to the plate.
It marked the fourth time in his career — and first since 2006 — that Suzuki had two hits in one inning.
Suzuki singled again in the eighth, raising his average to .350.
Suzuki and the rest of the lineup producing the team’s highest scoring output of the season, which was a good thing for Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen.
Chen gave up four home runs — all solo shots — and has now served up 15 gopher balls on the season, including seven in his last two outings. Chen became the first pitcher in Marlins history to give up as many as four homers in one game and still receive the win.
But it all proved inconsequential in the final result.
The Marlins pounded out 19 hits, most of them coming at the expense of Padres starter Colin Rea and his replacement, ex-Marlin Brad Hand.
Adeiny Hechavarria drove in four runs with a bases-loaded triple and RBI double, Justin Bour drove in a pair on his three hits, and everyone in the lineup — save for Chen — had at least one hit. Chen is still looking for his first major-league hit.
Ichiro, though, was the story of the night.
He walked to start the game before scoring to give the Marlins their first lead. And he kicked off the Marlins’ big third inning with a single, then beat out an infield hit later in the inning to drive in a run.
It was the third time in the past five games that the Marlins scored seven run in an inning. They also did it in Minnesota and Arizona during the road trip.
Ichiro walked again in the fifth before the Padres finally managed to retire him on a fly ball in the sixth. But he wasn’t finished, slashing a single to left in the eighth to cap off his performance.
“It’s been cool to be a part of watching him this year,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “I was a fan right away of his. Watching him play, and now getting to see this up close is nice to see. It’s been fun to have him.”