Ichiro eligible for Hall consideration
Mariners right fielder reaches 10 years of MLB service
OAKLAND -- Even if Ichiro Suzuki does not play another game in his Major League career, he became eligible for the Hall of Fame on Monday night.
The first-inning at-bat he had against the Athletics -- a popup to third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff -- gave Ichiro 10 years in the Major Leagues. So whenever he retires, even if it's on Tuesday, he will have qualified for HOF consideration.
Once a player retires, he must wait five years to be considered for HOF candidacy.
Several voters already are on record as saying Ichiro is on the cusp of being a Hall of Famer, citing his MLB record nine consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits. He also holds the single-season hit record -- 262 in 2004.
Ichiro went 1-for-4 in the season opener and scored a run in the ninth inning. It extended his personal hitting streak against Oakland to 21 games, during which he is batting .380 (35-for-92), started on Aug. 24, 2008.
But it is not his longest hitting streak against an opponent.
He had a 26-game streak against the Royals from April 14, 2005, to April 15, 2008, and a 22-gamer against the White Sox from April 27, 2001, to May 11, 2003.
Mariners off and running in 2010
OAKLAND -- A fast tempo that was established during Spring Training came out with a bang on Opening Night, when the Mariners' speed was put to good use.
The Mariners stole 34 bases during the Cactus League season, third behind the White Sox (39) and Angels (37) among American League teams, and swiped three on Monday night.
Second baseman Chone Figgins did what he does best -- stealing bases, scoring runs and causing havoc to the opposing defense with his penchant for putting the game in motion.
"That's what Ichiro [Suzuki] and I are going to do all season: get on base, run and create havoc," Figgins said. "That's the plan, anyway."
It worked so well on Monday night that Figgins went 0-for-3 and scored two of the Mariners' five runs in a two-run victory over the Athletics. Ichiro tried to get into the act, attempting to steal third in the third inning, but was thrown out.
It wasn't the best time for Ichiro to run, for several reasons.
The count was full on Figgins, there was nobody out, and the switch-hitter was batting left-handed, giving Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki a clear throwing path to third.
"We were aggressive on the bases and got some guys thrown out, but we're going to push the envelope and attack these guys," manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Figgins became the first player in franchise history to steal more than one base on Opening Night. In fact, the team had pilfered only nine bases total on Opening Night, the top being steals by Spike Owen and Dave Henderson in 1985.
The most recent theft in the first game of the season was by Omar Vizquel in 1992.
Felix extends streak of quality starts
OAKLAND -- Ace right-hander Felix Hernandez fell short of winning his third consecutive Opening Night start, but he did keep one streak alive.
He held the Athletics to three runs over 6 2/3 innings, extending his streak of consecutive quality starts to 14 straight, tying a franchise record. The mark was previously held solely by right-hander Erik Hanson, from July 27, 1990, through April 9, 1991.
Hernandez's streak started last Aug. 1, and he has compiled an 8-1 record and 2.16 ERA, allowing 24 earned runs in 100 innings.
First baseman Casey Kotchman has his own streak going.
He handled 13 chances on Monday night without a miscue, his 186th straight game without an error, which is the second-longest active streak by a first baseman in the Major Leagues. Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox has played 238 consecutive errorless games.
Kotchman's streak nearly ended in the first inning on Monday night.
His throw to shortstop Jack Wilson trying to nail Daric Barton hit the runner in the back and caromed into center field. But the second-base umpire already had ruled that Barton had gone out of the baseline to avoid being tagged out by Chone Figgins.
The four RBIs by first baseman Casey Kotchman on Monday night tied him for the second-most in a Mariners debut. Only Richie Sexson, who drove in five runs on Opening Day against the Twins at Safeco Field in 2005, had more. Al Chambers (July 23, 1983) and Leon Roberts (April 9, 1978) also had four. It is also the fourth-most RBIs by a Mariner on Opening Day behind Jim Presley (6, 1986), Jim Maler (5, 1982) and Sexson. ... Left-hander Erik Bedard will increase his workload, throwing bullpens on an every-third-day schedule, starting out with a 30-pitch limit. ... Cliff Lee played catch from the bottom of the mound Tuesday and all systems are go for a Friday session off the mound.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.