Ichiro Suzuki had four hits in his return to Japan, Dustin Ackley homered and then singled in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1 Wednesday night in baseball’s season-opener.
Felix Hernandez combined with two relievers on a six-hitter as Major League Baseball opened its season in Tokyo for the fourth time.
Seattle and Oakland complete their two-game series Thursday. The rest of the big league teams start to get going April 4, when the renamed Miami Marlins open their new ballpark against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Ackley homered in the fourth off Brandon McCarthy, and Oakland’s Kurt Suzuki doubled in a run in the bottom half. The score remained 1-1 until the 11th, when Brendan Ryan doubled against Andrew Carignan (0-1), Chone Figgins sacrificed and Ackley singled to center.
”I was able to put a good swing on that one,” Ackley said of his 11th inning hit. ”Our team is off to a good start, and that’s all that matters.”
Jerry Blevins relieved, Ackley stole second and Ichiro Suzuki singled for a two-run lead. Brandon League closed it out for the save.
Tom Wilhelmsen (1-0) got the win with two hitless innings.
Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who signed a $36 million, four-year contract with Oakland, was 1 for 3 with a seventh-inning double and two strikeouts in his major league debut.
A capacity crowd of 44,227 at Tokyo Dome was a sea of flashbulbs every time Ichiro Suzuki came to bat. He got a standing ovation when he took his position in right field in the final inning.
Ichiro Suzuki, dropped from leadoff to third in the batting order as he started his 12th big league season, singled in the first when be beat shortstop Cliff Pennington’s throw after his grounder over the mound was deflected by McCarthy.
Suzuki singled on a grounder to shortstop in the fourth and singled to center in the sixth.
Hernandez, coming off a 14-14 season, allowed five hits in eight innings, struck out six and walked none, throwing 104 pitches.
McCarthy gave up one run and six hits in seven innings with three strikeouts and no walks.
While Oakland threatened repeatedly, the A’s were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
NOTES: It was 3:09 a.m. PDT when the game began. It was not televised live in the U.S. outside the markets of the teams involved, and was shown on a delayed basis by the MLB Network. … Bartolo Colon starts Thursday the A’s, opposed by Jason Vargas. … The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs opened in Tokyo in 2000, followed by the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay (2004), and Boston and Oakland (2008). Seattle and Oakland had been scheduled to play at the Tokyo Dome in March 2003, but the series was scrapped because of the threat of war in Iraq. … A pregame video presentation honored victims and survivors of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. The video was narrated by Derek Jeter, Bobby Valentine and Cal Ripken Jr.