Updated Mar 28, 2012 - 11:54 am
Ichiro's homecoming plus Day 5 in pictures
After four days of appearances, workouts and exhibition games it was time for the Mariners to get down to business. After a moving pregame ceremony that featured a military band, giant American and Japanese flags on the field and a moving tribute to three heroes from the tsunami disaster, it was time to play ball.
I have mentioned the past few days that Ichiro has been putting on a show, exaggerating his mannerisms to the crowd's delight. Tonight he put on a show with his bat, singling in his first three at bats and coming through with an RBI single in the 11th.
Four hits on Opening Day in front of his countrymen? Who says Ichiro doesn't have a flare for the dramatic.
One would think that Ichiro feels at home here and perhaps that contributed to his success. There is no question he was feeling the love from a crowd that shouted its support and approval each time he stepped to the plate.
"It's hard to explain in words because it is all feelings, but trying to be on the same page with the fans is my approach," he said. "It is two games that they can see here in Japan with me in a Mariners jersey. I am trying to get as close as possible to what they feel, that's my approach."
It was give and take, according to Ichiro.
"I was very happy with how they reacted because you could see they were feeling what I was feeling," he said. "The other thing that got me going was our teammates said that about the fans too. They like the fans, the atmosphere, the way they approach the game. Even the A's said that too, so it was a good feeling."
"Seeing how they welcomed the players, they were very warm-hearted," Ichiro said. "That makes you cry."
As thrilled as Ichiro was to see his teammates appreciate the fans from his country, his teammates were clearly thrilled to see him have the night he had. Eric Wedge and his coaches have talked about the opportunity for this team to bond on this trip. Well, I would say that perhaps we saw some of that tonight.
I am going to move on to pics because it is ridiculously late. That postgame show gets in the way of my blogging. There is a Dustin Ackley pic coming so no, I am not ignoring him!
Wednesday night, Yomiuri hosted a reception for the Mariners and A's at the team hotel. Officials and players from both teams participated in the breaking of the sake barrels.
Wedge and Bob Melvin successfully break into the barrel of sake...
Munenori Kawasaki participating in the toast...
This would be a fun conversation to listen in on. Jack Zduriencik and Billy Beane. There were just a few tables at the front all reserved for VIPs. Want to know just how big Ichiro is in Japan? Well, his tablemates were the owner of Yomiuri, the president of the NPB and two former prime ministers of Japan.
On to yesterday.
This is not a gourmet food store. This is 7-11. The 7-11s here are amazing!
Beers are sold individually.
Emergency ties as modeled by Rick Rizzs. But wait...
They have shirts too! The men in the area where we are staying all wear black suits. Everyone looks like they are going for a job interview.
City worker thoroughly cleaning the "smoking area" as the smokers patiently wait. See those raised yellow lines? They are for the blind. When you come to a spot where you need to turn or stop the dashes turn into dots.
Kyle Seager signing outside the hotel. The fans line up to get autographs.
Got to go to a reception at the U.S. Embassy. Second embassy that I have been to and it reminded me a lot of the other.
A lot of rooms like this.
Pretty sure most embassies don't have Mariner beer girls, however.
I got Ackley and Mike Carp to pose for a shot in a fancy room. Their moms would be proud, although I am not sure how I managed to make it look like Dustin was wearing a sombrero. He wasn't.
Mariners present Ambassador Roos with a jersey. He's a Giants fan.
Kaz Sasaki stopped by...
My ride. Not really.
Sign of the day. What is so odd about this? It was at Tully's. Want a chili cheese dog with that latte? On to the park.
Mariners fan from Osaka.
This family had all their bases covered.
This little guy's camera was almost as big as he was.
Dinner. They do not feed the media here so I had to make a stop at 7-11 on the way to the game.
The pregame ceremony.
Ackley waiting to be called out for star of the game. Alex Liddi taking it all in, and the photographers thinking Ichiro would come out as the second star of the game. He didn't. I suspect he will tomorrow if he has a good game.
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.