What a day for milestones throughout major league baseball! Well, how about the same game north of the border in Toronto for two major ones.

First, let’s start with Ichiro Suzuki who became the first player in ML history to record 10 straight 200-hit seasons, breaking his own record of nine straight. Ichiro continues to just hammer out hits and produce yearly since coming over to America to play for Seattle. The guy is rarely injured, rarely slumps and is on his way to Cooperstown after he retires. Just when you think age will catch up to Ichiro, he fires out another incredible season. His holds a career slash line of .331/.376/.430. He has more 200-hit seasons than Ty Cobb and is tied with hit king Pete Rose as the only other play with 10 seasons of at least 200 hits. Amazing.

Another incredible performance took place in the same game as Ichiro’s milestone in Toronto as Jose Bautista continued his meteoric breakout season with his 50th home run of the season Thursday. Not only was it his 50th blast of the year, easily leading the majors in homers, but it came off of fireballer Felix Hernandez and was the winning run for the Jays in a 1-0 victory over the Mariners. It will be hard to explain what exactly has happened north of the border this year with the Jays going homer crazy, but Bautista was a guy who had 59 home runs through six ML seasons and now this. His career high in one season was 16 homers and he triples that total for 50 out of nowhere. In a season of record no-hit and low-hit ballgames, this feat is even more special. I don’t think you will find too many people (even Blue Jays fans!) out there who think this is what to expect from Joey Bats year in and year out from now on. I sure don’t and that’s just my opinion, but we’ll eventually find out if this is the real Bautista or an incredible fluke of massive proportions. Of course as a Pirates fan, this is not even surprising to any of us. Not that anyone saw this kind of season on the horizon for Bautista, but it’s just about right considering he used to hit .230 with 15 homers for the Bucs.


The Texas Rangers are suddenly serious contenders. The AL West division leader made the first splash in the trade market by acquiring Cliff Lee and reliever Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for Justin Smoak and three minor leaguers.

The rumor for Texas all summer was the possibility of Roy Oswalt, but forget that. They picked up a pitcher a year younger and more consistent at this point in his career than Oswalt. Lee joins a staff that was already fourth in the AL in ERA and instantly becomes the ace this team lacked as I wrote about last month. Lee is 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts and five complete games. Even more impressive is his strikeout/walk ratio of a mindboggling 14.83 (best in the majors). Yes, he’s only walked six batters in 103.2 innings. Whoa.  This will also help shore up a rotation that currently has two starters (Rich Harden and Derek Holland) on the disabled list.

On the other hand, the Mariners pick up some prospects for a half season of Lee (actually less than half considering he started the season on the DL and the suspended list). The M’s picked up Lee in the offseason by dealing three prospects, most notably pitcher Phillippe Aumont, so does this year’s trade bring in better prospects? Well, Smoak is definitely a talent and is already major league ready. In his first season, Smoak has the pop with 10 doubles, eight homers, but a slash line of .209/.316/.353 through 70 games. Only time will tell if these prospects that Lee brought in will be a better return than what they gave up to the Phillies last year. Seattle took a shot this year by trading for Lee and they missed with a 34-51 record.

It’s refreshing to see this trade happen without the Yankees being involved. It’s uncommon to see teams like the Rangers trading for elite starting pitching. Good for them. I’m glad to see it happen to the Rangers and not the usual New York/Boston story.

Texas is already 5.5 games ahead of Anaheim in the division, and this deal should pretty much wrap up that division. It’s now the Rangers division to lose, and I don’t think they will lose it.

Overshadowed last night by the near perfect game was the story of Ken Griffey Jr. announcing his retirement at the age of 40.

Greatest baseball game ever

Griffey (baseball-reference stats) played a total of 22 seasons and you almost forget the kind of hitter he was coming up with the Mariners. He was the premier power hitter in his time, averaging more than 50 home runs for four season from 1996 to 1999 that made many believe he would be the guy to surpass Hank Aaron as home run king. Of course the way it played out was Griffey was dealt to Cincinnati, where he never found the success he had in Seattle and Barry Bonds eventually became the guy to break the home run record. You can’t think about Griffey’s career without mentioning the numerous freak injuries with the Reds that derailed his chance at Aaron’s record. I always remember the “here-we-go-again” moment with the Reds when Griffey injured his leg rounded third base and missed the majority of the season.

Still, Griffey’s Hall of Fame career was nothing short of amazing. Despite the injuries and missed a significant part of three seasons in the 2000’s, he slugged 630 homers in 22 seasons with a career .284 average. He was a 13-time all-star and a 10-time gold glove winner. His plaque will soon stand at Cooperstown.

Griffey was also part of the 1995 Mariners team that helped revitalize baseball in Seattle with their one-game playoff win over the Angels and first-round victory of the Yankees. My best memory of Griffey will be him flying around the bases to score on Edgar Martinez’s game-winning hit in the 12th inning of game 5 to clinch the series for Seattle.

Growing up in the 90s, he was the hitter you wanted to be. He was the player kids emulated when they were hitting in their backyard or in little league. Who can forget about his baseball game, Ken Griffey Jr. baseball, for super Nintendo? The game was fantastic that I still fire up from time to time, and it still opens up with an intro of Griffey’s classic home run swing.

A lot of people were critical of the Mariners bringing Griffey back to Seattle in the past two seasons as a cheap way to sell tickets. Who cares if that’s why they did it. I liked the idea that he was able to live out the end of his career in the only city that has called him their own and create a couple of lasting moments. Yes, he was actually from Cincinnati, but in my book he was never a Red and does anyone remember he was a White Sox? He was—for a half season in 2008 before returning to Seattle.

Griffey is a Seattle Mariner and will go into the Hall as one. The game is losing one of its greatest hitters of all-time.

I wanted to kick each week off with a recap of the recent happenings around the league throughout the last week. I’m not sure what day this will end up on from here on out—Monday makes the most sense since it’s by the beginning of the week and a lot of teams have an off day on Mondays, but depending on my schedule the day may fluctuate.

Let’s start off with the Tigers rolling out to a 5-1 start. What happened to everyone who said they wouldn’t be a good team without Curtis Granderson or Edwin Jackson? Well it looks like the Tigers benefited from some nice scheduling to start the season starting off with the Royals, Indians and now the Royals again for a three-game series. The Tigers rotation will be crucial to their hopes this year. Let’s see where they end up at the end of April after they get the Angels, Rangers and Twins the rest of the month.

Speaking of Jackson, now a member of the Diamondbacks rotation, want to know how shitty the 13-run 4th inning against the Pirates yesterday got? Jackson recorded two hits in the fourth inning, a single and even a home run. This from a guy that had four hits in eight major league seasons even though a bulk of that was spent in the American League.

With Cliff Lee out for probably all of April, the Mariners cannot afford to get in a hole early as they are struggling out of the gate already to a 2-5 mark. Someone in that rotation not named Felix Hernandez needs to step up for the M’s to stay even close to contention until Lee gets back. It’s still early, but after all the additions Seattle made in the offseason it will be an interesting trade deadline if they fall out of it early.

The Houston Astros are the only team yet to win a game in 2010. Not a real surprise here, but I’m curious to know if the Astros are 0-fer at the trading deadline does the brass still make moves to go for it as if they were in a pennant race?

Roy Halladay seems to be enjoying the National League very much so. He’s already 2-0 with 0.56 ERA in 16 innings with one CG, 17K’s and only two walks. Yikes to the rest of the NL East! We knew Halladay was a beast and now in the NL, if he stays healthy I’m predicting at least 15 CG from him this year.

The 5-2 Twins will open Target Field this afternoon against the Red Sox on ESPN. This will mark the first time the Twins have played outdoors in Minnesota since 1981. Anyone have the weather forecast for Minneapolis? Actually, it appears to be in the 60s today so that shouldn’t be much of a problem, but the weather channel’s website actually did an interesting feature on the typical weather to expect in April and October at Target Field. It’s safe to say at some point soon we’ll see some snow at the new ballpark.

The Giants ran off a nice 5-1 start thanks to a 2.79 ERA, good for fourth best in the major leagues. The pitching was expected, but they are also fifth in the league with a .289 average. I doubt they will hold that average and score runs, but they have a chance to extend their solid start with three upcoming home games against the Pirates.