Ichiro Suzuki will be playing in a familiar spot in right field at Safeco Field on Monday night, but there will be one major difference.
Since coming over from Japan in 2001 - the year he was the AL rookie of the year and MVP - Suzuki has spent his entire major league career with the Mariners, surpassing 200 hits in each of his first 10 seasons.
The 38-year-old Suzuki, though, is batting a career-low .261 in 2012, the final year of his contract. With outfielder Brett Gardner likely done for the season and Nick Swisher battling a hip injury, the first-place Yankees (57-38) sent minor league pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to Seattle for Suzuki, who has not played in the postseason since 2001.
"He's done some great things in the league," shortstop Derek Jeter told the Yankees' official website. "Offense, defense, there's a lot of different ways he can beat you. He's been as consistent as anyone."
The 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glover will bat eighth in his Yankees debut and play behind Japanese countryman Hiroki Kuroda , who will try to end the Yankees' first four-game losing streak of the season Monday.
New York started its West Coast trip in miserable fashion by suffering its first four-game sweep since May 2003. Oakland posted four one-run wins in the series and scored the winning run in its final at-bat for the third straight game Sunday during a 5-4, 12-inning win.
Rafael Soriano gave up Seth Smith 's tying homer in the ninth for his first blown save in 16 chances and his second in 26 attempts this season. Cody Eppley then allowed Coco Crisp 's game-ending single for his second loss in three days.
"It's tough to lose four games regardless of how it looks," Jeter said. "We were playing pretty good coming in here but those guys have been playing good. They beat us four games. That's all you can say."
The Yankees will try to snap the skid behind Kuroda (9-7, 3.46 ERA), who is seeking to match a career high by winning a fourth consecutive decision.
The right-hander is coming off his first shutout since his 2008 rookie campaign, a rain-shortened 6-0 win over Toronto on Wednesday. He gave up four hits and walked none over seven innings after posting a 7.62 ERA over his previous two outings.
Kuroda allowed two solo homers over seven innings in his most recent matchup with the Mariners, a 6-2 win May 11 at Yankee Stadium. He's 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA in 11 home starts this season and 2-4 with a 4.66 ERA in eight on the road, but this will be his first career outing in Seattle.
He will face a Mariners team that's coming off a 5-2 road trip. Seattle's hitters led the way during the first four games of that trek, batting .325 with 31 runs scored, but its pitchers helped secure back-to-back wins against Tampa Bay this weekend, allowing a combined two runs.
The Mariners (42-55) blanked the Rays over the final eight innings of a 2-1 win Sunday.
"A real good road trip," manager Eric Wedge said. "It's tough to win on the road. It's tough to win in general. The two losses we did have were walk-offs, so they were tight ballgames throughout."
Wedge's club, which has lost four of five at home, will start Kevin Millwood (3-7, 4.15), who is coming off one of his worst outings of the season. The veteran right-hander gave up seven runs and a season-high 10 hits over five innings in Kansas City on Wednesday but did not get a decision in an 8-7 defeat.
Seattle has lost in each of Millwood's last five starts, but he earned a 6-2 win in his last one against the Yankees on May 13 by allowing one run over seven innings.
|New York Yankees|
|June 28, 2012||Andy Pettitte||60-Day DL||Fractured left ankle - out 6-8 weeks|
|June 27, 2012||Andy Pettitte||Day-to-Day||Fractured left ankle - out 6-8 weeks|
|June 25, 2012||CC Sabathia||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|June 25, 2012||CC Sabathia||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|June 16, 2012||Nick Swisher||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left quad contusion|
|June 04, 2012||Kosuke Fukudome||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 18, 2012||Charlie Furbush||15-Day DL||Strained left triceps|
|July 01, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Ichiro Suzuki bowed twice to the fans and promptly smacked a single to center.
Sayonara, Seattle. Hello, Yankees.
Suzuki switched teams at Safeco Field after a momentous trade and singled his first time up with New York during its 4-1 victory over the Mariners on Monday night.
"Obviously, it looks different being over here," Suzuki said through a translator. "I was worried about my first at-bat. I was really relieved with the standing ovation. It was a special day today."
In a surprising deal about 3 1/2 hours before the game, Seattle sent Suzuki to the Yankees for a pair of young pitchers. After leaving the only major league team he'd ever played for, the 10-time All-Star held an emotional news conference and then joined his new teammates in the other clubhouse.
Just like that, Suzuki went from last place in the AL West to first in the AL East. And he helped New York beat his former club by going 1 for 4 with his 16th stolen base.
The crowd of 29,911 gave Suzuki a 45-second standing ovation when he came to bat for the first time in the third inning. He doffed his helmet and bowed twice before hitting a single and stealing second base.
"My 11 1/2 years here is a long time and I was thinking what I would feel like in my first at-bat," Suzuki said. "I really didn't think anything. Nothing came to me. It was just a wonderful day to experience that."
Hiroki Kuroda (10-7) allowed three hits over seven sharp innings to help the Yankees bounce back from a four-game sweep in Oakland. The right-hander struck out nine and walked one.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 15th home run this season - the 644th of his career and 299th as a Yankee - in the eighth. He also had a double in the fourth and scored twice. It was his 40th homer at Safeco Field but first since Aug. 22, 2006.
Mark Teixeira had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and an RBI.
David Robertson worked a hitless eighth and Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 25th save in 27 chances. Fittingly, Suzuki caught the final out in right field.
Kevin Millwood (3-8) went seven innings, allowing nine hits and three runs.
Suzuki showed up in Seattle's clubhouse in the early afternoon wearing a fine suit with thin pinstripes. By the end of the day, he had a different sort of pinstripes on his mind.
"I am going from a team with the most losses to a team with the most wins," he said. "It's hard to contain my excitement for that reason."
The Yankees also got cash in the deal that sent 25-year-old righties D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the last-place Mariners.
Suzuki, in the final year of his contract, started in right field in place of injured Nick Swisher and batted eighth. It was the first time the 2001 AL MVP and Rookie of the Year started a game batting anywhere other than the top three spots in the lineup.
"Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki , through his longtime agent, Tony Attanasio, approached (team president) Chuck Armstrong and me to ask that the Mariners consider trading him," said Howard Lincoln, the team's CEO. "Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future, and he felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop."
The Yankees made the deal a few days after learning that speedy outfielder Brett Gardner would likely miss the rest of the season because of an elbow problem, and manager Joe Girardi said Suzuki will mostly play left field.
"He looked good," Girardi said. "He hit the ball right on the screws twice. He stole a base, made a good throw to home. Kind of what we expected.
"We're really pleased to have him. This is a guy we think can do a lot of things for us. He's a very accomplished player. Our guys were really excited to see him."
Suzuki hit just .272 last season and was at .261 this year - 62 points below his career average - before the trade. But Girardi believes change is good.
"I think it can help a lot of guys," he said. "A couple years ago, we acquired Lance Berkman . He was huge for us down the stretch and the end of the year. He just got on a roll and I think Ichiro can do the same thing.
"He's used to high expectations. Every year he's expected to get 200 hits, score 100 runs. Slipping into our lineup maybe he won't feel all those expectations as much."
Suzuki said he did feel relaxed in among his new teammates.
"It's an atmosphere that's really comfortable," he said. "It's an atmosphere I love to be around."
Suzuki was given No. 31 because the number he wore his entire career with the Mariners, No. 51, has not been worn by a Yankee since four-time World Series champion Bernie Williams last played.
"No. 51 is a special number to me, but when I think about what 51 means to the Yankees, it's hard for me to ask for that number," said Suzuki, who holds the major league record for most hits in a season.
When Suzuki trotted out to right field in the first, fans stood and applauded. He tipped his hat and waved it in a half-circle.
The Mariners scored in the third on John Jaso 's RBI single to right. Suzuki's hard throw to the plate was too late to get Dustin Ackley .
The Yankees responded with three in the fourth. Rodriguez ripped a one-out double high off the right-field wall and Robinson Cano walked. Teixeira doubled to right, scoring Rodriguez and sending Cano to third.
Raul Ibanez followed with a first-pitch single to left, scoring Cano for a 2-1 lead. Teixeira scored on Andruw Jones ' single.
NOTES: No. 31 had been worn by 41 former Yankees coaches or players, including Tim Raines and Hall of Famer Dave Winfield . ... It was the eighth time in club history that the Mariners played at home the day after the longest flight in the American League (2,510 miles) from Tampa Bay. They are 4-4 in those games. ... Mariners 1B Justin Smoak went hitless in three at-bats and is riding an 0-for-19 streak. ... Millwood has given up 32 hits to Suzuki, more than any other pitcher.