TOKYO: 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 today. 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 for the save.
Tom Wilhelmsen 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.
Hernandez, coming off a 14-14 season, allowed five hits in eight innings, struck out six and walked none.