Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/24/12

SEATTLE -- For the first time in a dozen years, Ichiro Suzuki walked into Safeco Field without walking into the home clubhouse.

Traded to the New York Yankees midday Monday, Ichiro walked to the interview room where the trade was announced, then headed to the visitor's clubhouse.

And he smiled.

Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees third baseman who has known Ichiro for over a decade, said the smile was the biggest one he'd seen on Ichiro in three years. Ichiro got a warm standing ovation from his former home crowd, singled in his first at-bat as a Yankee, and also stole a base.

Then, behind the pitching of Hideki Kuroda and a double and solo homer from Rodriguez, the Yankees went out and beat the Mariners 4-1.

The Yankees win a lot -- more than any team in the American League this season. The Mariners lose a lot -- tied for the most in the AL. And that is just part of what is new for Ichiro, who talked about what it was like to be around the Yankees batting cage with veterans like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and A-Rod.

"The atmosphere was really relaxed," said Ichiro, who was traded for two minor league pitchers. "I felt really comfortable there.

Ichiro looked out of place batting eighth, but after a talk with manager Joe Girardi, the 38-year-old veteran said he was looking to contribute to a winner and that he could do that any place in the New York batting order.

It was another Japanese expat who stole the show, however. Kuroda allowed the Mariners just three hits, one walk and one run in seven innings.

Kuroda fell behind on an RBI single by John Jaso in the third, but Seattle would get just one more baserunner against him. Jaso singled again in the sixth.

"Back in April (Kuroda got off to a 2-3 start), he was trying to prove himself here," Girardi said. "Now he's just pitching."

Meanwhile, the Yankees had four of their nine hits against Seattle starter Kevin Millwood in the fourth inning while scoring three times. That rally, and Rodriguez's homer in the eighth, were more than enough to enable New York to push its lead over Baltimore in the American League East to seven games.

Kuroda got relief help from David Robertson in the eighth and Rafael Soriano in the ninth, Soriano bouncing back from a blown save Sunday in Oakland to record his 25th save in 27 chances with Mariano Rivera out for the season.

Robertson gave the Yankees a scare when he came up limping after throwing a pitch to Dustin Ackley in the eighth, but it turned to be nothing.

"I was scared at first," Robertson said, "but I just caught my spike. I got lucky."

Not so lucky was Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak. He was sent down after the game after a 3-for-29 performance on the just-completed road trip was followed by an 0-for-3 night with a couple of strikeouts.

"I think everyone's seen what's going on," Smoak said of his batting average, now at .189. "I need to go down and get back to where I was a couple of months ago."

Carlos Peguero took over in right field for Seattle and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Manager Eric Wedge said he could see a number of players at the position, including Casper Wells, who played left field Monday. When outfielders Mike Carp and Franklin Gutierrez come off the disabled list, Gutierrez could return to center, and Michael Saunders, who has been in center most of the season, could get time in right.

NOTES: Ichiro got a standing ovation when he came to the plate for the first time as a Yankee, the second batter of the third inning. He stepped out of the batters' box, removed his batting helmet and bowed to the appreciative crowd. ... Ichiro opted against wearing No. 51 for the Yankees, a number that hasn't been worn since Bernie Williams retired. He instead has Dave Winfield's old number, 31. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he expects he'll use Ichiro in left field once Nick Swisher returns from a strained hip flexor. Swisher is likely to miss the entire Seattle series and return to the starting lineup Friday against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium. ... Tuesday's starting pitchers, Freddy Garcia and Felix Hernandez, are good pals dating back to their time together in the Seattle organization. Hernandez signed with the Mariners in 2002 in part because his idol, fellow Venezuelan Garcia, was pitching for Seattle.

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