SEATTLE (AP) -- Twelve months ago, Ichiro Suzuki told his
Mariners he was frustrated with what he saw as his teammates' lack
of commitment and resolve throughout a second consecutive
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
Seattle C Kenji Johjima singled in the ninth inning for his
147th hit, setting an AL record for hits by a rookie catcher. Buck
Rodgers had 146 for the Los Angeles Angels in 1962. ... Young owns
the Rangers' team record with 221 hits, in 2005. ... The Mariners
won their third consecutive series over Texas, the first time
that's happened since 2002-03. ... Seattle drew 2,481,165 to Safeco
Field this season, its third consecutive drop in attendance.