ST. LOUIS -- Major League hit No. 3,054 carries a special meaning to Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
By reaching that number on Thursday in a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, Ichiro passed Rod Carew and now has more big league hits than any player born outside of the United States. Ichiro had a two-hit game, and he now ranks 23rd all-time, one behind Rickey Henderson.
Carew, born in Panama, finished his Hall of Fame career with 3,053, a figure Ichiro reached with a single in the second inning on Thursday. Facing Michael Wacha, Ichiro, who started in right field, sliced a line-drive single to left. Wacha threw Ichiro a 1-2 changeup, and Ichiro put one of his easy swings on the ball, slapping it the other way. Statcast™ listed the exit speed at 89.5 mph.
"Obviously, I didn't see him in his prime, Rod Carew," Ichiro said through his interpreter, Allen Turner. "A lot of people have told me the similarities, that he used to hit like Ichiro. The similarities are another point that's special. I've heard he was a similar player like I am."
Carew, 71, has been dealing with health issues, having undergone heart and kidney transplants in the past year. Still, when Ichiro reached the 3,000-hit milestone last August in Colorado, Carew reached out to the now 43-year-old outfielder from Japan.
"When I got 3,000 hits, [Carew] wrote me a letter," Ichiro said. "I know he's not feeling well, but he wrote me a letter."
In the eighth inning Thursday, off Brett Cecil, Ichiro singled again, moving him into 23rd place all-time, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Due to discrepancies in historical statistics, some numbers may differ according to the source.
"It's tough to even say more about the already incredible resume," Marlins first baseman Justin Bour said. "Obviously, this just checks off another box on his amazing career in baseball. It's a treat to be able to see him play every day and continue to mark off milestones. It's just amazing."
Next up for Ichiro is Henderson. The two are regarded as the top two leadoff hitters of their generation. Still, Ichiro sees a difference between himself and Henderson, MLB's all-time stolen-base leader.
"I can't lift the base up like Rickey," Ichiro said jokingly.