Ichiro Suzuki will be playing in a familiar spot in right field at Safeco Field on Monday night, but there will be one major difference.
The longtime Seattle Mariners star will be wearing a New York Yankees jersey after he was traded Monday prior to the opener of this three-game series.
Since coming over from Japan in 2001 - the year he was the AL rookie of the year and MVP - Suzuki has spent his entire major league career with the Mariners, surpassing 200 hits in each of his first 10 seasons.
The 38-year-old Suzuki, though, is batting a career-low .261 in 2012, the final year of his contract. With outfielder Brett Gardner likely done for the season and Nick Swisher battling a hip injury, the first-place Yankees (57-38) sent minor league pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to Seattle for Suzuki, who has not played in the postseason since 2001.
"He's done some great things in the league," shortstop Derek Jeter told the Yankees' official website. "Offense, defense, there's a lot of different ways he can beat you. He's been as consistent as anyone."
The 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glover will bat eighth in his Yankees debut and play behind Japanese countryman Hiroki Kuroda, who will try to end the Yankees' first four-game losing streak of the season Monday.
New York started its West Coast trip in miserable fashion by suffering its first four-game sweep since May 2003. Oakland posted four one-run wins in the series and scored the winning run in its final at-bat for the third straight game Sunday during a 5-4, 12-inning win.
Rafael Soriano gave up Seth Smith's tying homer in the ninth for his first blown save in 16 chances and his second in 26 attempts this season. Cody Eppley then allowed Coco Crisp's game-ending single for his second loss in three days.
"It's tough to lose four games regardless of how it looks," Jeter said. "We were playing pretty good coming in here but those guys have been playing good. They beat us four games. That's all you can say."
The Yankees will try to snap the skid behind Kuroda (9-7, 3.46 ERA), who is seeking to match a career high by winning a fourth consecutive decision.
The right-hander is coming off his first shutout since his 2008 rookie campaign, a rain-shortened 6-0 win over Toronto on Wednesday. He gave up four hits and walked none over seven innings after posting a 7.62 ERA over his previous two outings.
Kuroda allowed two solo homers over seven innings in his most recent matchup with the Mariners, a 6-2 win May 11 at Yankee Stadium. He's 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA in 11 home starts this season and 2-4 with a 4.66 ERA in eight on the road, but this will be his first career outing in Seattle.
He will face a Mariners team that's coming off a 5-2 road trip. Seattle's hitters led the way during the first four games of that trek, batting .325 with 31 runs scored, but its pitchers helped secure back-to-back wins against Tampa Bay this weekend, allowing a combined two runs.
The Mariners (42-55) blanked the Rays over the final eight innings of a 2-1 win Sunday.
"A real good road trip," manager Eric Wedge said. "It's tough to win on the road. It's tough to win in general. The two losses we did have were walk-offs, so they were tight ballgames throughout."
Wedge's club, which has lost four of five at home, will start Kevin Millwood (3-7, 4.15), who is coming off one of his worst outings of the season. The veteran right-hander gave up seven runs and a season-high 10 hits over five innings in Kansas City on Wednesday but did not get a decision in an 8-7 defeat.
Seattle has lost in each of Millwood's last five starts, but he earned a 6-2 win in his last one against the Yankees on May 13 by allowing one run over seven innings.
The Associated Press News Service
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