Cardinals impressed by Ichiro's hit milestone

Cardinals impressed by Ichiro's hit milestone

ST. LOUIS -- What began as a smattering of applause grew into a standing ovation after Ichiro Suzuki slapped a first-inning single to right field off Cardinals starter John Lackey on Saturday.

The hit was Ichiro's 2,915th in the Majors, but, combined with the hits Ichiro tallied during nine seasons playing in Japan, it pushed Ichiro's professional hit total to 4,192, one more than Ty Cobb hit in the Majors. Cobb's 4,191 career hits are second-most in Major League history.

"I don't know if people stop to think about that," said manager Mike Matheny, who was among those in the Cardinals dugout to applaud Ichiro for the achievement. "You're looking at over 4,000 [hits] being 20 years of 200 hits. That's unbelievable. To put that into perspective is really mind-boggling. I know some people are going to say it doesn't equate because of what he did over in Japan, but to me, it's impressive no matter where he is.

"[He's] quite a player, and I think he's going to go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time."

Ichiro, who will turn 42 in October, showed his appreciation to the Busch Stadium crowd by tipping his helmet as he stood on first.

"I really wasn't expecting the reaction that I did get," Ichiro said through his interpreter, Allen Turner. "Obviously the fans here know their baseball, and they are very high-class fans. I knew that coming in. Obviously I had to focus on my next play. But I was moved."

Ichiro also noted the connection he feels to St. Louis, where George Sisler set a single-season hit record (257) in 1920 as a member of the St. Louis Browns. Ichiro topped that mark with 262 hits in 2004. Ichiro visited Sisler's grave site before the 2009 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium.

Interestingly, Ichiro got the milestone hit off Lackey, against whom he has more hits (36) than any pitcher in the Majors. Ichiro has also faced Lackey more than anyone else with 126 plate appearances against him.

WORTH NOTING

• Matheny offered no report of progress for reliever Jordan Walden, whose rehab work remains at a standstill. Walden has been out since April 30 with right biceps inflammation. He stopped throwing after his arm did not respond well in four Minor League rehab appearances last month, and there remains no timetable for his return.

"Whenever we think we're making steps forward," Matheny said, "we go backwards."

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Randal Grichuk became the fourth fastest rookie in Cardinals history to hit 15 homers in a season. Grichuk connected for his 15th homer on Saturday, his 84th game of the year. The only Cardinals to do so in fewer games were Johnny Mize (77 games, 1936), Albert Pujols (49 games, 2001) and Chris Duncan (63 games, 2006).

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.