Ichiro reaches 200 hits for 10th straight season

TORONTO (Kyodo) — Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki extended his major league record for consecutive 200-hit seasons to 10 on Sept. 23 after going 2-for-5 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Suzuki, who came into the game with 198 hits, also tied Pete Rose for the most career 200-hit seasons after hitting a double down the left field line in the third inning and singled up the middle in the fifth.

The 10-time All-Star began the streak in his rookie year in the major leagues. He said he is comfortable with the change in the way he has been treated by the media and people surrounding him in the process.

“I was often asked if I can get a hit in my first year, but now they say why I can’t get one when I don’t perform well. I feel pretty comfortable with how I’ve changed how I’m viewed by people surrounding me,’’ Suzuki said after the game at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

He said the key to his success is a wide variety of hitting techniques, which enable him to hit varied pitches from many different types of pitchers.

“I’ve got options when I face pitches, even in an era in which they say pitchers get the upper hand on the hitters, and such options give me the depth in my hitting,” Suzuki said. “And, hopefully I’ll go beyond [Rose’s] record.”

A former Orix BlueWave player, Suzuki won seven batting titles in Japan’s Pacific League before joining the Mariners after the 2000 season.

He soon made a splash in the major leagues by leading the American League with 242 hits, 56 stolen bases and a .350 batting average in his rookie year, while winning MVP and Rookie of the Year honors.

He went on to win one more batting title and set the major league single-season hit record with 262, both in 2004, and last year broke Willie Keeler’s record for eight consecutive 200-hit seasons set in 1894-1901.

The 36-year-old has also led the majors in hits six times over the previous nine seasons.

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