NEW YORK — Ichiro Suzuki was overwhelmed by the outpouring of appreciation he received from the Yankees after he got his 4,000th hit between the major leagues and Japan in the first inning.
The celebration after Alfonso Soriano’s tiebreaking homer in the eighth was pretty nice, too as New York went on to beat the Blue Jays 4-2 for Toronto’s 12th straight loss at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s unbelievable, 4,000 hits,” Soriano said of Suzuki’s milestone. “To get 4,000 hits, you have to be a great hitter.”
The 39-year-old Suzuki hit a line drive off Dickey (9-12) that bounced just beyond diving third baseman Brett Lawrie for the milestone hit. Pete Rose with 4,256 hits and Ty Cobb with 4,191 are the only two players that have reached the number solely in the major leagues.
Suzuki broke a tie with Lou Gehrig when he got his 2,722nd major league hit in his 13th season. The speedy outfielder amassed 1,278 hits in nine seasons with the Orix team of Japan’s Pacific League.
Suzuki’s teammates streamed out of the dugout and surrounded him at first base, Curtis Granderson giving him the first hug. A grinning Suzuki then faced the cheering fans and bowed, tipping his helmet. He bowed several more times, the last one toward the Blue Jays dugout.
“When my teammates came out to first base it was very special, and to see the fans,” Suzuki said. “I wasn’t expecting so much joy and happiness from them and that’s what made it very special tonight.”
When he went to his position in right field for the second inning, Suzuki tipped his cap to fans who greeted him with a standing ovation.
“You never want to be the guy that gives up the milestone,” Dickey said. “That being said, what an incredible achievement. The manner that he’s done it is equally impressive. Just the longevity, the endurance, the durability. Having played with him in Seattle, it was a real treat to play with him and it couldn’t have happened to a more professional hitter.”
Ken Griffey Jr., a former teammate with the Seattle Mariners, congratulated Suzuki with a message shown on the video board at Yankee Stadium.
Suzuki’s postgame news conference with the Japanese media lasted a whopping 47 minutes.