"The atmosphere of the stadium was obviously different, and I didn't know how I
was going to react," Ichiro said prior to Game 2 on Monday. "But I didn't think that I wouldn't be able to control my excitement,
and that wasn't the case -- maybe because I'm with the Yankees and just the
atmosphere that we have at the Stadium."
Ichiro set a number of records during his first -- and only -- postseason
experience with the Mariners 11 years ago. He managed to hit .600 (12-for-20)
in the ALDS against the Indians, which marked the highest average for any
series that lasted five games.
It was also the best career average for any player with at least 20
postseason at-bats. Overall, Ichiro reached base in all 10 postseason games he
played with Seattle, and his personal streak was extended to 12 after recording an RBI double in the first inning of Game 1 and a single in the third inning of Game 2.
More than anything, Ichiro seemed to enjoy the hostile environment at a sold-
out Camden Yards. It's something that often can be found only during a
postseason series with plenty on the line.
"What I felt yesterday was, you come on the road and you get booed by the fans,
but that felt really good," Ichiro said. "I think a lot of players got booed
last night, but it just felt really good to get booed on the road."
Ichiro's career appeared to be in decline until he was acquired by the Yankees
in a late-July trade for a pair of right-handed pitching prospects. The 12-year veteran
appeared rejuvenated by the move and almost immediately turned around what
had been a disappointing season.
After the trade, the 38-year-old proceeded to hit .322 (73-for-227) with 28 runs scored and 19
extra-base hits in 67 games. He also provided much-needed versatility while filling
in for the injured Brett Gardner, splitting his time in left field (26 games),
right (24) and center (5).
"It seemed to work out really well for both him and us," Yankees manager Joe
Girardi said of the deal. "I think he's comfortable where he's at. I think he
is around the guys a lot more that are his age group and his peer group, in a
"We've given him some days off, so I think he's remained fresh. He has not had
to have been the focal point of the lineup and been the guy that's expected to
produce a lot. He just needs to be part of what's a really deep lineup, and I
think he's really enjoyed it."