With his pants hiked up, revealing his stirrups, Dee Gordon went with the retro look Sunday.
Gordon won the batting and stolen base titles, becoming the first National League player to accomplish the feat since Jackie Robinson in 1949. Gordon also became the first NL player since Honus Wagner in 1908 to lead the majors in hits and stolen bases.
And Marlins manager Dan Jennings added some spice to the finale by allowing legendary Japanese star Ichiro Suzuki to pitch for the very first time in a major-league game.
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“To be on a mound at a major-league baseball game, you can say that one of my dreams came true today,” the 41-year-old Suzuki said.
The Marlins lost their season-ender, 7-2, to the Phillies.
But they had much fun in the process, with Gordon capturing the batting title with a 3-for-4 day and Ichiro taking the mound in the eighth to the delight of players on both teams, who stood on the top step of the dugouts to watch.
In a season-ending game in which the outcome meant absolutely nothing, Gordon went out with a bang, ripping the first pitch of the game for a double before adding a home run and a single.
That left him with a .333 average.
Washington’s Bryce Harper, who began the day leading in the batting race by 1/10,000th of a point, went 1 for 4 to wind up at .330.
“It feels kind of surreal,” Gordon said. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. But it was an amazing feeling when I walked up the stairs [following the game] and my teammates were waiting to congratulate me. It felt really good.”
Race to the finish
With all major-league games starting simultaneously Sunday, the batting race played out in real time. Jennings said the Marlins were monitoring Harper’s game in New York and were prepared to lift Gordon if it reached a point where it would enhance his chances of winning the title.
But Gordon would have nothing of it. He told Jennings beforehand he would prefer to win or lose the title on the field.
“He had told me, ‘Skip, I want to play through this. Best man will win,’ ” Jennings said. “And he went out and took matters into his own hands. He made a statement.”
The race was all but decided when Gordon recorded hits in each of his first three at-bats while Harper was going 0 for 3. Needing only a triple to become the first Marlins player to hit for the cycle, Gordon stayed in the game but struck out in his fourth and final at-bat.
“I was going to go out and try to earn it,” Gordon said. “I wasn’t going to come out. If I was going to win it, I was going to win. If I was going to lose, I was going to lose. I’d rather do it on the field.”
Please keep quiet
Gordon said he told players and coaches not to tell him what was going on with Harper in the Nationals game.
Once the batting race became settled, Jennings pulled off a major surprise when he summoned Suzuki — one of the greatest hitters in major-league history — to pitch the eighth.
“I’ve been talking to Ichy about this for about a month, month and a half,” Jennings said. “The situation had to be right.”
The Marlins were trailing 6-2 when Suzuki took the mound.
Suzuki gave up a leadoff double to Odubel Herrera and, after retiring Cameron Rupp on a fly ball, an RBI double to Darnell Sweeney. But he retired the next two hitters to complete the inning.
“I can say it was fun, but I’ll never talk bad about a pitcher again,” Suzuki said, laughing.
Jennings said Suzuki deserved the chance.
“He’s earned that because of who he is and the player and the career he’s had,” Jennings said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Dee Gordon’s 3-for-4 effort Sunday clinched the second batting title in team history. His .333 average beat out Nationals OF Bryce Harper’s .330.
Gordon (.333/58) is the first player to lead the NL in average and stolen bases in same season since Jackie Robinson (.342/37) in 1949 for the Brooklyn Dodgers.