With Ichiro sitting, Seattle stumbles in Phoenix

With Ichiro sitting, Seattle stumbles in Phoenix

With Ichiro sitting, Seattle stumbles in Phoenix
PHOENIX -- Ichiro Suzuki is on a pace to sit out about a game per month this season, and Mariners manager Eric Wedge didn't pick a bad one to have him miss at Chase Field on Monday night.

The Mariners fell behind against left-hander Wade Miley early and lost to the D-backs, 7-1. The defeat was Seattle's seventh in its last 10 games after taking two straight from the Giants over the weekend.

Despite his .255 batting average, Ichiro clearly wasn't that comfortable with the situation. He's used to playing every day.

"It was my day off, so it wasn't surprising or anything," Ichiro said judiciously through an interpreter after the game. "It's not easy to be out of the lineup."

Asked how he felt about the situation, Ichiro added that it wasn't his call.

"We all have different opinions, but, as a player, you always want to be needed in the lineup," he said. "So that's how I look at it. And it's tough not to be in the lineup."

Does he feel needed?

"I don't know," he said. "That's not something I decide. That's not how I look at it."

Wedge nodded affirmatively when asked after the game if Ichiro would be back in the lineup on Tuesday in the second tilt of a three-game Interleague series between the two teams.

On Monday, the D-backs, who were shut out in their last two games by the Angels in Anaheim, tied a club record by hitting four sacrifice flies, all of them coming against Mariners starter Hector Noesi. Aaron Hill also delivered the first cycle against the Mariners since Miguel Tejada, then of the A's, did it at Safeco Field on Sept. 29, 2001.

Noesi (2-8) allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits in six innings. Hill's single, double and triple came against him. Hill hit his eighth homer of the season in seventh off reliever Shawn Kelley.

"He's a good player, I've seen him play for a long time," said Wedge, remembering Hill from his days in the American League playing for the Blue Jays. "He's a powerful player. He gives himself a chance. It looks like he's seeing the ball well. When you make mistakes the way we did tonight, he's going to make you pay for it."

Oliver Perez replaced Kelley and made his first Major League appearance since Oct. 3, 2010, for the Mets. The lefty, who was just brought up from Triple-A Tacoma, induced a Jason Kubel groundout, ending the seventh inning. He allowed a hit and walked one in the eighth.

The Mariners had nine hits off Miley (8-3), who whiffed eight. Their only run was scored when Casper Wells' double followed a single by Kyle Seager in the sixth inning. Wells was later thrown out of the plate by Kubel on Dustin Ackley's single to left.

"It was basically a hit here, a hit there," Wedge said. "Their guy pitched a good ballgame. He spread out the hits. We were never really in a position to do any damage. I felt like we swung the bats OK. I did. We made some hard outs, too. But we were never able to put an inning together."

The Mariners, at 29-40 and in last place in the AL West, haven't been able to put much together with Ichiro in the lineup, either. He previously had been given only one other day off this season, on May 30. Ironically, it was the club's best offensive display of the season -- a 21-8 win over the Rangers in Texas.

Wedge said before the game that, at 38 years old, Ichiro might benefit from a few breathers.

"He works hard," Wedge said. "The routine doesn't change. But he's still human. To have a day every now and again is a good thing for him."

On that, the two men may differ.

Clearly, this is a juggling act. Ichiro prides himself in his durability. He had played in 150 consecutive games dating back to June 11, 2011, when he was given the day off on May 30. And his only off-day of the 2011 season snapped a streak of playing in 255 consecutive games. This season, he has played in 67 of the club's 69 games.

He's currently hitting 68 points below his career batting average of .323 and has 71 hits. His next hit will be the 2,500th in the Major Leagues since signing with the Mariners in 2001. He had 1,278 playing seven seasons for the Orix BlueWave in Japan's Pacific League.

Ichiro demurred when asked if he liked having a day to rest.

"I can't answer that," he said. 

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.