SEATTLE (AP) — Dee Gordon had a big night on the bases, Nelson Cruz hit a two-run home run and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 4-1 on Thursday night in their first game since Ichiro Suzuki was moved from the roster to the front office.
Hours after the Mariners announced Suzuki’s new role for the rest of 2018, Gordon gave the longtime Japanese star a fitting tribute. With “Thanks 51” written on his cap, Gordon went 3 for 4, stole two bases, scored twice, and set the table for the three-run third inning that proved the difference against the A’s and their emerging left-handed ace, Sean Manaea.
Gordon opened the game with an infield single and stolen base against Manaea, who threw this season's only no-hitter April 21 against Boston. Jean Segura sacrificed Gordon to third, and Robinson Cano singled him in to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
Gordon did more damage in the third when he led off with a double. Segura and Cano then repeated the sequence from the first inning, with Segura bunting and Cano singling. Cruz followed with a shot over the right-center field wall for his seventh home run of the year and a 4-0 lead.
Wade LeBlanc pitch four innings of three-hit ball in his first start since transitioning from the bullpen following Erasmo Ramirez's injury. Chasen Bradford (3-0) followed by allowing a run over 2 1/3 innings on a solo homer by Stephen Piscotty.
James Pazos, Juan Nicasio and Edwin Diaz took care of the rest. Diaz handled the ninth for his major league-leading 13th save.
Manaea, who came into the game with a 1.03 ERA and the lowest opponents' batting average (.134) in the majors, gave up four runs and six hits while striking out five in six innings.
ICHIRO MOVES ON
Suzuki was released by the Mariners and is shifting into a front office role with the team, although he is not completely shutting the door on playing again.
The Mariners announced that Suzuki was becoming a special assistant to the chairman effective immediately. The team said Suzuki will have an active presence with the team and assist with outfield play, baserunning and hitting.
But nowhere in the announcement do they say the 44-year-old is retiring, although Suzuki is precluded from returning to the active roster in 2018.
Mariners: Seattle selected RHP Erik Goeddel from Triple-A Tacoma to take Suzuki's spot on the active roster. Goeddel was 1-0 with four saves and a 0.00 ERA in nine games with Tacoma.
A's: RHP Daniel Mengden (2-3, 4.68 ERA) gets the start for Oakland in Friday's series opener at home vs. Baltimore. Mengden is 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA over his last four starts after going 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA in his first two outings of the season.
Mariners: Seattle welcomes the Angels for a three-game weekend series, with RHP Mike Leake (3-2, 6.48) slated to start Friday night's opener. Leake got the win in his last start in Cleveland on April 28, going six innings and giving up four runs on six hits.