10/02/2004 2:41 AM ET
Drese and Ichiro forever linked
Pitcher allows record-breaking hit to Seattle outfielder
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Ryan Drese became an instant trivia subject on Friday night, courtesy of Ichiro Suzuki.
|Ryan Drese chats with umpire Joe West after allowing Ichiro Suzuki's 258th hit. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
What pitcher gave up Ichiro's record-breaking 258th hit?
Yes, it was the Rangers right-hander, who has had a breakout year with 14 wins in 2004. Years from now, when sports trivia is played, Ichiro and Drese will be linked by what transpired in the third inning, when Ichiro smacked a single up the middle off Drese to break George Sisler's single-season record of 257 hits.
Ichiro and Drese ... in the record books together. Does that notion bother Drese?
"It honestly doesn't," Drese said. "It's not like it's the 500th home run or something like that. It's just a little single on the ground. It's no big deal."
Drese came right after Ichiro in the first and third innings, but Ichiro's bat was again like a magic wand. In the first, Ichiro chopped a ball over the head of a drawn-in third baseman Hank Blalock to tie Sisler's record.
"He bounced it high over Hank's head and there's nothing you can do," Drese said.
Then Drese went to a 3-2 count against Ichiro in the third before surrendering the record-breaker on a smash to the left of shortstop Michael Young.
"It was an inside sinker and he just grounded it right through shortstop," Drese said.
Ichiro's single in the third triggered a string of seven consecutive Seattle hits. But Drese said he wasn't distracted after Suzuki broke the record.
"I made a great pitch on Randy Winn (the next hitter) and he almost broke his bat," Drese said. "But he got the ball over the first baseman's head."
Drese said a pitcher doesn't have a lot of control against Ichiro's special brand of slap-and-dash hitting.
"Hopefully, he hits it right to somebody," Drese said. "If he doesn't, he doesn't. If he's going to slap it on the ground or hit it over the pitcher's head ... you can maybe move the defense around a little, but he's already out of the box. Anything he hits on the ground, he's got a good chance to beat out."
Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira was in the middle of the commotion after Ichiro got his record-breaking hit. Teixeira shook Ichiro's hand in tribute to the memorable feat.
"It was good to be a part of it," Teixeira said. "For someone to have an accomplishment like that and to be right next to him, it was pretty cool.
"He looked like he was showing some emotion out there. Very proud, very satisfied. He does a great job of putting the bat on the ball. No matter where you throw it, he's going to put a good swing on it."
Suzuki finished 3-for-5 and it took a diving catch by center fielder Laynce Nix to prevent a fourth hit.
"He's an artist at work," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "It's not a brute strength thing with him."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.