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Fans can watch live as Ichiro, Mariners battle A's in 2019 opener in Tokyo

By
Matt Loede
Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will be in the starting lineup Wednesday when the Mariners and A's take the field in the opener in Japan at the Tokyo Dome. The teams will play a two-game set to kick off the 2019 MLB season. File Photo by UPI/Bill Greenblatt
Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will be in the starting lineup Wednesday when the Mariners and A's take the field in the opener in Japan at the Tokyo Dome. The teams will play a two-game set to kick off the 2019 MLB season. File Photo by UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo

March 19 (UPI) -- The 2019 Major League Baseball season will begin a little early for two teams, as the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners, with Ichiro Suzuki, open the season with a two-game set in Tokyo starting Wednesday.

The game will be the fifth time that a season has started in Japan and the first for Major League Baseball since 2012, which also began with Oakland and Seattle.

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Fans in Japan are focused mostly on one player in the two-game series, Ichiro, who will start in the outfield for the Mariners.

It was announced on Monday that Suzuki would start the season opener Wednesday, despite the 45-year-old having a tough spring that saw him hit just .080 (2-for-31).

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"Ichiro is going to start for us in the first game against the A's," Servais said. "He's playing fine in the outfield. Obviously, he showed plenty of arm strength tonight on that one throw to third base. He'll start the game and we'll see how it plays out from there.

"I'm excited for him. It hasn't been a great spring training for him offensively, but if there's anybody who can turn it on for a few days, it's certainly Ichiro."

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Fans can stream the game live starting at 5:35 a.m. EDT from the Tokyo Dome on MLB.tv or the WatchESPN app. It also will be shown on ESPN-TV.

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While it could be the swan song in the career of Suzuki, it comes after a celebrated career that started in April 2001, oddly enough against the same team -- the A's -- and he collected his first hit in his first game against Oakland relief pitcher TJ Matthews.

Suzuki's career has seen him pile up 3,089 hits, including 10 consecutive seasons of 200 or more hits.

"He's had a spectacular career. One of the great players in the game if not the greatest hitter as far as volume of hits worldwide," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

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"On top of that, a great entertainer. We know it's our job as professional sports athletes to not only play but to also entertain. He did that as well as anybody."

Wednesday's opener between the two teams will see Oakland have Mike Fiers on the mound against Seattle left-hander Marco Gonzales.

Fiers last season was 12-8 with the A's, sporting a 3.56 ERA in 30 starts for Oakland, which finished second in the American League West at 97-65, six games behind the AL West champion Houston Astros.

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Gonzalez went 13-9 for Seattle last year, with a 4.00 ERA in 29 starts. The Mariners wrapped up 2018 with a mark of 89-73, third place in the AL West.

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