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It didn't take long for Ichiro Suzuki to show the Yankees the possibilities he brings to the lineup.
After basking in a long ovation from the Seattle fans and bowing in respect for their cheers, Ichiro celebrated his first Yankees at-bat by lining a single right up the middle. He then stole second and put himself in scoring position for new teammates who do not share the Mariners' belief that scoring runs is a sin against the baseball gods.
Suzuki actually wound up stranded at third after the hit and steal, which only proves that narratives don't always play out exactly the way you might script them. In a movie, Ichiro would do something magical to win the game.
The Yankees don't need much magic, though. Their 4-1 win over the Mariners was a reminder that four straight losses to the A's didn't rob the team of the things that took them to the best record in baseball.
Suzuki is here to be a complementary player for Alex Rodriguez (homer, two RBI) and Mark Teixeira (three hits over the shift and an RBI) to drive in, a role that fits him much better at this point in his career than the starring role the Mariners needed him to play. And he's here to chase down balls in the outfield in support of pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda.
Assuming Kuroda even needs such help. The big trade definitely made the Yankee-Mariner game on Monday night a must-see attraction in Japan, something that meant Kuroda's countrymen got to see him steal the spotlight from his more celebrated teammate.
Kuroda allowed just three hits and a walk over seven innings while striking out nine hapless Seattle hitters on his way to win number 10 on the season. Kuroda also slashed his ERA to 3.34, a number that does a pretty decent job of illustrating the success of Kuroda's transition to the American League this season.
Ichrio's transition might not be such a rousing success, but, again, the Yankees don't really need him to have that kind of impact. They need him to be a member of the ensemble, doing smaller things to support the stars while putting them in a position to look their best.
A lot of veteran actors have won Oscars doing just that over the years. Ichiro and the Yankees are hoping for the same result, although they are vying for a very different trophy.
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