Ichiro pitches inning in relief for Marlins
PHILADELPHIA — Ichiro Suzuki has accomplished quite a bit in his major-league career.
Now you can cross pitching off the list.
Suzuki hit 88 mph and induced a swing and miss with a breaking pitch during a one-inning relief appearance for the Miami Marlins Sunday in their regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Phillies, a 7-2 loss.
After his inning, Suzuki gained a whole new appreciation for pitchers.
"I can’t say it was fun, but I’ll never talk bad about a pitcher again," Suzuki said through an interpreter while laughing.
The 10-time outfield Gold Glove Award winner had never pitched in a major-league game before entering for the bottom of the eighth inning. He allowed a leadoff double to Odubel Herrera, who later scored on a double to deep right by Darnell Sweeney. After throwing mostly fastballs to the first few hitters, Ichiro mixed in an upper-70s breaking pitch to Freddy Galvis, inducing an awkward whiff with his first one.
"I thought my fastball was going to be my best pitch, but it was my slider," Suzuki, who turns 42 years old on Oct. 22, said. "I was shocked that my fastball wasn’t my best pitch."
Suzuki finished allowing one run on two hits with a ground out and two fly outs.
Suzuki, a 15-year big-league veteran, finished this season with 2,935 major-league hits and another 1,278 hits in nine professional seasons with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan.
He and Marlins manager Dan Jennings had been talking about getting Suzuki on the mound for about a month. After seeing video of Suzuki pitching in an All-Star Game in Japan, Jennings decided it was something he’d like to do near the end of the season.
"We talked about the situation had to be right," Jennings said. "And so his last at-bat, he’s on deck and looks down at me and says, `You thinking about it?’ I said, `Oh yeah, it’s done, you’re in, you got it.’ And you know what, he’s earned that because of who he is and the player and the career that he’s had."
Suzuki walked off to applause from the Philadelphia crowd. His teammate Dee Gordon also had a special day, winning the NL batting title over Washington’s Bryce Harper. Suzuki has two batting crowns of his own — both in the American League.
But Sunday was his day to pitch.
"These guys, we’ve won 10 out of our last 12 series, they’ve played so well, had a lot of fun," Jennings said. "Final day of the season, you know what, they earned the right to see a guy like (Suzuki), a Hall of Famer, go out and throw that last inning and kind of punctuate his career."