So how does Seattle's most accomplished player feel about his team finishing its 2006 season still in last place but with nine more wins -- the final one being a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday that Suzuki jump started with a leadoff home run?
"To answer that question, that would take an hour," Suzuki said through his interpreter.
Count Suzuki's need to ponder instead of pout as another sign of Seattle's incremental improvement this season.
Richie Sexson added his 34th home run in the second inning off Robinson Tejeda to complete his second-half resurgence. Adrian Beltre then singled after Yuniesky Betancourt doubled to break a 2-2 tie in the third as the Mariners finished 78-84, but with optimism.
Sexson was batting .221 on Aug. 7 but finished the season at .264 -- thanks to a .365 September.
The nine-year veteran and two-time All-Star called his rally "my greatest accomplishment."
The Mariners rallied with him. They went 22-16 following their 0-11 road trip in August that dropped them from playoff contention.
"This season, on a whole, was a step in the right direction. And I don't think there's any spin on that," manager Mike Hargrove said.
Team chief executive officer Howard Lincoln said last week that Hargrove will return for a third and final year on his contract in 2007. General manager Bill Bavasi will also be back.
They will have Suzuki in the final year of his $44 million, four-year contract. The major league hits leader got two more on Sunday. Suzuki finished with 224 hits, the third time in six Mariners seasons he has led the major leagues in that category. This season, he rebounded from a woeful April of batting .177 to do it, and finished with a .322 average.
Texas' Michael Young had an infield single in the sixth inning to finish with 217 hits, second-most in Rangers' history and second to Suzuki in the league.
"Baseball, to me, is all about wins and losses," Young said. "So in that sense, I am disappointed. I'm not interested in going home Oct. 1. I'm playing my whole career pretty much to win a World Series."
The Rangers remain far from that.
Texas finished 80-82, a one-win improvement over last season and the first time since the Rangers began play in 1972 that they have finished fewer than four games under or over .500. But this was the Rangers' sixth losing season in seven years since their last AL West title, in 1999.
Manager Buck Showalter will have a meeting with team executives on Tuesday to determine the direction for next season, which would be the first year of a three-year contract extension he signed through '09.
"It's not about me, or the players," Showalter said of his future, being more circumspect than he usually is. "It's the people I work with and the people I work for."
Jake Woods, a reliever who finished the season in the Mariners' makeshift rotation that will get an overhaul in 2007, pitched six innings and allowed eight hits. Woods (7-4) struck out six and walked none. He was 4-3 in eight starts after joining the rotation on Aug. 25.
"He's done nothing to make us think he can't start," Hargrove said.
Jon Huber pitched two scoreless innings before J.J. Putz completed the ninth inning for his 36th save in 43 chances to end his revelation of a season.
Tejeda (5-5) allowed six hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked one.
Ian Kinsler provided all of Texas' scoring with his 14th home run of the season into the back of the Rangers' bullpen off Woods in the third inning.
|Players of the Game|
|Ian Kinsler, 2B||4||1||2||2||0||0||1|
|Mark DeRosa, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||3|
|Michael Young, SS||4||0||1||0||0||1||0|
|Mark Teixeira, DH||2||0||2||0||0||0||0|
|Gerald Laird, PR-DH||2||0||1||0||0||1||1|
|Rod Barajas, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Jerry Hairston Jr., CF||4||0||1||0||0||3||1|
|Miguel Ojeda, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||3|
|Nelson Cruz, RF||4||0||1||0||0||1||0|
|Joaquin Arias, 3B||3||1||2||0||0||0||1|
|2B - Joaquin Arias (, Woods)|
|HR - Ian Kinsler (, Woods)|
|RBI - Ian Kinsler 2 ()|
|CS - Joaquin Arias (, 2nd base by Huber/Johjima)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Kinsler-Young|
|Robinson Tejeda (L,-)||5||6||3||3||1||2||2|
|Pitches-Strikes - Robinson Tejeda 63-39, John Rheinecker 11-7, Josh Rupe 11-7, Frank Francisco 13-9, C.J. Wilson 3-2|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Robinson Tejeda 6-6, John Rheinecker 2-0, Josh Rupe 3-0, C.J. Wilson 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Robinson Tejeda 21, John Rheinecker 3, Josh Rupe 3, Frank Francisco 3, C.J. Wilson 1|
|Ichiro Suzuki, CF||4||1||2||1||0||1||1|
|Adrian Beltre, 3B||4||0||1||1||0||3||2|
|Kenji Johjima, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||2|
|Raul Ibanez, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||2|
|Richie Sexson, DH||3||1||1||1||0||1||0|
|Ben Broussard, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|Jose Lopez, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Chris Snelling, RF||1||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Willie Bloomquist, RF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Yuniesky Betancourt, SS||3||1||1||0||0||0||1|
|2B - Ben Broussard (, Tejeda), Yuniesky Betancourt (, Tejeda)|
|HR - Ichiro Suzuki (, Tejeda), Richie Sexson (, Tejeda)|
|RBI - Ichiro Suzuki (), Adrian Beltre (), Richie Sexson ()|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Beltre-J. Lopez-Broussard|
|E - Jose Lopez (, Throwing)|
|Jake Woods (W,-)||6||8||2||2||0||6||1|
|Jon Huber (H,)||2||2||0||0||0||0||0|
|J.J. Putz (S,)||1||0||0||0||0||3||0|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jake Woods 94-66, Jon Huber 24-17, J.J. Putz 18-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Woods 7-4, Jon Huber 1-4|
|Batters Faced - Jake Woods 25, Jon Huber 7, J.J. Putz 3|
|Attendance - 28361|
|Game Time - 2:12|
|Temperature - 57|
|Umpires - Home - Mike Muchlinski, First Base - Sam Holbrook, Second Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Third Base - Angel Hernandez|