Maybe the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s thought that if they kept playing, Ichiro Suzuki couldn’t leave baseball.
The game had to end at some point, however, and it was the Mariners who provided the final blow.
Seattle scored the tiebreaking run in the 12th when the A’s couldn’t turn a double play on a grounder by Domingo Santana and then held on for a 5-4 win on Thursday night at Tokyo Dome in a game overshadowed by the reports Ichiro Suzuki would retire when it was over.
Ichiro got an emotional sendoff before the bottom of the eighth as the game stopped for several minutes.
As Japan, the Mariners and MLB said goodbye to Ichiro, they said hello to pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, Japan’s newest MLB player.
A few days before Kikuchi’s first MLB start, Ichiro said he felt the left-hander had what it takes to become an ace one day. Kikuchi fell short of winning his first time out, but he gave the Mariners something to feel good about.
The left-hander fell one out short of being in line for the win, but he gave the Mariners reason to be positive.
Kikuchi threw a 1-2-3 frame in his first MLB inning. He recorded the first out himself, fielding the ball near first base and stepping on the bag before Marcus Semien. He struck out Matt Chapman with a slider for the second out and got Stephen Piscotty to fly out to Ichiro in right.
He ran into trouble in the fifth, allowing singles by Matt Olson and Jurickson Profar to start the frame. Kikuchi retired the next two batters before Semien singled to center to drive in a run and end Kikuchi’s night.
Kikuchi allowed two runs — one earned — in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one batter.
“I wasn’t necessarily nervous, but it was a special feeling,” Kikuchi said. “My legs weren’t shaking or anything, but I was prepared. I knew my career as a major leaguer was going to begin from then at Tokyo Dome. I was excited.
“I threw a lot of ball in the first inning and got in some 3-2 counts,” he added. “But I persevered.”
“Really good,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Kikuchi. “He really lived up to his billing.”
Ryon Healy hit a two-run homer for Seattle and Mitch Haniger had a solo shot. Jay Bruce also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Khris Davis drove in a pair of runs for the A’s after hitting a two-run homer in the opener. Marcus Semien also had an RBI, with Oakland’s other run scoring on an error by Bruce.
The game remain deadlocked until the Mariners pushed through in the end.
The clubs were scheduled to leave Japan after the game. They’ll switch back into spring training mode before the MLB campaign resumes with all 30 clubs on March 28.
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