Ichiro ejected for first time in career
Right fielder thrown out after arguing balls and strikes
TORONTO -- A line drawn in the sand on Saturday afternoon ended a streak that Ichiro Suzuki started in 1992 as a rookie with the Orix Blue Wave.
For the first time in his professional career, the Mariners right fielder was ejected from a game.
It happened in the top of the fifth inning of the Mariners' eventual extra-inning 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
With a runner on third base, one out and Seattle leading, 2-0, Ichiro took three consecutive pitches from Blue Jays left-hander David Purcey. All three pitches were called strikes.
After the third one, Ichiro backed away and then took a few steps back, stuck out his bat, leaned over the plate and drew a line in the dirt, indicating that he thought the pitch was outside.
Without hesitation, plate umpire Brian Runge gave Ichiro the heave-ho.
"He was ejected for drawing a line," crew chief Jerry Layne told a pool reporter. "Even his manager said, 'I can't take up for him when they draw a line like that.' It was kind of a cut-and-dry thing."
Ichiro did not discuss the ejection with English-speaking media after the game, but told Japan-based reporters that he was surprised the ejection came so quickly.
"I wanted to have a little more time," he said.
Manager Don Wakamatsu said he had not had a chance to talk about the ejection with his star right fielder.
"Obviously, there were pitches that he thought were called unfairly against him," he said. "We will look at the replays."
Replays shown after the ejection suggested that the third strike was on the outside corner.
The Mariners came within seven games of becoming the first Major League team since 1994 to go through an entire season without having someone ejected.
The Twins had perfect deportment during the strike-shortened '94 season.
Ken Griffey Jr. said he kidded Ichiro afterwards and told him, "You're still two behind me."
"Surprised? Yeah, I guess you can say that," Junior said. "I mean, he has played 17 years and never been tossed."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.