SEATTLE -- Ichiro Suzuki brought some old-time magic back to Safeco Field on Saturday, but it wasn't quite enough to save the day as the Mariners dropped a 6-5 decision to the Indians following a rough start by James Paxton.
Ichiro robbed a home run from Jose Ramirez by going above the fence in left field in the third inning and went 2-for-4 in his second game back with the Mariners after signing as a free agent on March 7.
The 44-year-old moved past Hall of Famer Cap Anson into 21st on the Major League's all-time hit list with 3,082, but he said the only thing on his mind now is enjoying his journey back in Seattle, where he spent the first 11 1/2 seasons of his career. With his 2-for-4 day, Ichiro now has 907 multi-hit games in his career, the 14th most in MLB history. He needs four more to tie former Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski for 13th.
"I'm just so happy to be able to come to Safeco Field and play the game of baseball," Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner. "I just take every day getting to the field and getting to play the game, I'm so happy with. So I'm not thinking about anything like that."
Mariners manager Scott Servais started Ichiro again in left field despite the veteran being 0-for-12 with six strikeouts in Cactus League play and the first game of the regular season, and Ichiro rewarded his faith.
"He's got something about him, the little flair, the things he does in a game. He said, 'Skip, that's routine for me,'" Servais said. "I appreciate that. At 44, that wasn't routine for me. You just shake your head and marvel at the guy and his ability. His at-bats were outstanding today.
"He's a special, special player. He really didn't have much of a Spring Training at all. You've got to be patient with it and let him play it out. Guys that have that many hits and play the game that well, they'll find a way and that's what he did today."
Ichiro's moments -- as well as home runs by Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger -- weren't enough to overcome Cleveland, however. Paxton gave up a grand slam to Yonder Alonso in the first inning and a two-run shot to Yan Gomes in the fourth and lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his season debut.
"It was a tough day," Paxton said. "Obviously, I have to be better than that and I'll work to get there."
Cruz launched his second home run in two games, but he had to be taken out after twisting his right ankle while slipping on the dugout stairs after his two-run shot cut the lead to 6-5 in the sixth.
Robinson Cano went 3-for-4 and Haniger continued his hot start to the season with his solo shot in the second. Haniger is now 4-for-6 through his first two games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A slammin' start: Alonso's first hit as an Indian did grand damage, as the former Mariner greeted his old team with a first-inning bases-loaded blast off Paxton for the quick 4-0 lead. Paxton gave up a double to Jason Kipnis and then walked Edwin Encarnacion and Rajai Davis before Alonso drove a 95-mph fastball into the right-field seats. Paxton allowed just 0.60 home runs per nine innings last year, the lowest mark in the Majors for any pitcher with 130-plus innings
Yan gone: After the Mariners pulled within one run of the Indians -- thanks to Haniger's homer in the second and four straight singles in the third -- Gomes answered in a big way. In the fourth inning, the Cleveland catcher crushed a 2-2 offering from Paxton to dead center field for a two-run home run. That shot, which came with a 107.5 mph exit velocity, per Statcast™, put the Indians up, 6-3.
Cruz keeps crunching: The Mariners' big designated hitter isn't running too well due to a sore right quad muscle, and he was taken out of the game in the eighth inning after twisting his right ankle, but those problems have been alleviated by the fact he keeps putting the ball over the fence. Cruz launched a two-run blast on a first-pitch changeup from Carlos Carrasco in the sixth to pull Seattle within 6-5 for his second homer of the season. His 168 home runs since the start of the 2014 season are the most in the Majors. More >
"You come to the regular season and the atmosphere is so different. It's nothing like Spring Training. It's not close. All I can say is I like the atmosphere here much better, to be able to hit in this situation." -- Ichiro, on finding his timing now after going 0-for-10 in the spring
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cruz is one of 10 Mariners to homer in back-to-back games to start a season, and the first since Cano in 2016.
Mike Leake makes his season debut for the Mariners in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. PT series finale with the Indians. The 30-year-old went 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five starts for Seattle after being acquired from St. Louis last year. He's 2-2 with a 3.92 ERA in seven career starts vs. Cleveland.
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