MLB News and Notes July - 11

MLB News and Notes July - 11

Baseball Today - July 11
By Associated Press

No games scheduled.

STARS

Tuesday

- Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, went 3-for-3 with an inside-the-park home run to lead the American League to a 5-4 victory over the National League in the All-Star game.

STREAK

In a decade of dominance, the AL has won the last 10 All-Star games played to a decision, only 2002's notorious tie at Milwaukee interrupting the run. The only longer streak was when the NL took 11 in a row from 1972-82. The AL improved to 5-0 since the All-Star winner received homefield advantage in the World Series.

MVP

Ichiro Suzuki is closing in on a contract extension with the Seattle Mariners - and he showed his club why it would want to keep him around for the long haul. Suzuki hit the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star game history Tuesday night, winning MVP honors and helping the American League to a 5-4 victory. His go-ahead, two-run drive off San Diego's Chris Young took a crazy bounce off the right-field wall - he's never hit one during the regular season.

COMEBACK THWARTED

After Alfonso Soriano's two-out, two-run homer in the ninth, the NL loaded the bases on three walks before Los Angeles Angels' closer Francisco Rodriguez retired Aaron Rowand on a routine fly to right for the save.

SPOTLIGHT ON BONDS

Barry Bonds flied to right field in the first inning, hit an opposite-field shot to the left-field warning track in the third, then departed at the top of the fourth. Hitting in the No. 2 spot - his last regular-season appearance in that slot was 20 years ago - he even faked a bunt on the first pitch of his second at-bat.

SPEAKING

''That was sweet. That ball is a double and he turns it into more.'' - Boston slugger and AL All-Star David Ortiz, on Ichiro Suzuki's inside-the-park homer in the AL's 5-4 win over the NL on Tuesday. Ortiz started at first base and went 0-for-2 in the victory.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July - 11

Suzuki adds All-Star MVP to list while closing in on new contract
July 11, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Ichiro Suzuki put his mark on the right-field wall at AT&T Park. Next up, he's about to put his name on a rich, new contact.

Sure was a worthwhile All-Star trip for Seattle's sensational leadoff man.

Suzuki hit the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star game history Tuesday night, winning unanimous MVP honors and helping the American League to a 5-4 victory.

He's got a contract extension in the works, and now a new SUV to drive as a gift for his latest great performance.

``It's one that I'll never forget,'' Suzuki said. ``The past six years, I never had an All-Star that I really thought I gave it my all or was able to give it my all. So, I'm really happy. It was a fun All-Star game.''

He certainly showed his Seattle bosses why they would want to keep him around for the long haul.

Suzuki never hit an inside-the-park homer during his career back home in Japan.

``I thought it was going over the fence,'' Suzuki said. ``When it didn't, I was bummed out.''

Everybody else loved it.

His go-ahead, two-run drive off San Diego's Chris Young took a crazy bounce off the right-field wall.

``That was sweet,'' Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said. ``That ball is a double and he turns it into more.''

Suzuki, second in the majors with a .359 average, said there might be one way he could keep on repeating what he did Tuesday.

``If I'm allowed to hit .220, I could probably hit 40,'' he said, ``but nobody wants that.''

By the sixth inning, Suzuki already had all three hits.

While Barry Bonds was the talk of this All-Star game, Suzuki's new deal in the works brought him some added attention on the AL side before the game.

Then, the inside-the-park homer became one of the highlights in San Francisco's typically pitcher-friendly park.

``Man, that was fun,'' AL teammate C.C. Sabathia of the Cleveland Indians said. ``It was exciting to see.''

The Mariners just might be eager to get Suzuki signed as soon as possible considering the show he put on for the baseball world Tuesday night.

``We're still talking but we're not at the point where we have anything to announce,'' said Suzuki's agent, Tony Attanasio.

Suzuki, who started in center field and batted leadoff, would not say when a deal might be reached. The Mariners had no comment.

``Whatever happens, everybody will know in the future, whenever that might be,'' Suzuki said through an interpreter before batting practice. ``Maybe three hours from now, maybe after the season. I'm done for today (on the topic).''

The Seattle Times reported on its Web site Tuesday that the extension could pay the two-time AL batting champion and 2001 AL MVP close to $100 million over five years.

``Much dinero,'' said Suzuki's AL teammate, Victor Martinez. ``Lots of money.''

The 33-year-old Suzuki is in the final year of a $41 million, four-year contract. The seven-time All-Star said during spring training that he planned to test his value on the free agent market this winter.

But he has changed his stance in recent weeks, certainly in part because the Mariners are playing well. They put together a strong and surprising first half, entering the All-Star break with a 49-36 record and just 2 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.

Suzuki is hitting .359 with 61 runs, 128 hits, 39 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases in 25 attempts.

Suzuki set the single-season record for hits with 262 in 2004. He has gotten at least 200 hits in each of his first six years in the majors.

His willingness to stay in Seattle also might have become stronger since the abrupt resignation of manager Mike Hargrove on July 1. Hargrove said his ``passion has begun to fade.''

The relationship between Suzuki and Hargrove was tenuous at times, but both insisted their differences were in the past. Hargrove insisted his decision to step down had nothing to do with any disputes with players or the front office.

The Mariners promoted bench coach John McLaren for the rest of the year. He and Suzuki get along well and developed a strong relationship during Suzuki's rookie year in 2001. Seattle matched a major league record with an AL-best 116 wins that year, and Suzuki was named AL Rookie of the Year and MVP.

He had a club-record 25-game hitting streak in June and hit safely in 55 of his last 59 games before the All-Star break.

``He's an artist with the bat,'' NL manager Tony La Russa said. ``Wonderful baserunner, outfielder. This guy is a complete player and (there's) no place to go to get him out.''

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