Former Cubs outfielder Matt Murton threatening to break Ichiro Suzuki's hit record in Japan

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Matt Murton was a 2003 first-round pick who hit .286/.352/.436 in 1,058 plate appearances spread over 354 games for the Cubs, Rockies, and A’s, but for whatever reason never really got a shot to be an everyday player despite doing very well as a 24-year-old regular in 2004.
After spending most of last season at Triple-A he headed to Japan, signing with the Hanshin Tigers, and yesterday Murton became just the fourth player in Japanese history to reach 200 hits in a season. Not only that, but with 201 hits and 10 games remaining he has a chance to break the all-time record of 210 hits held by Ichiro Suzuki.
Murton is hitting .352 with 17 homers for Hanshin and has averaged 1.5 hits per game, which puts him on a 216-hit pace. However, as Daisuke Wakabayashi of the Wall Street Journal points out “there are past examples of Japanese pitchers refusing to challenge foreign players who are close to breaking Japanese baseball records.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Murton gets enough strikes to make a run at Suzuki’s record and if the big season in Japan will cause an MLB to give him another look.

Hisashi Iwakuma’s 2017 option vests, but salary still undetermined

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: Hisashi Iwakuma #18 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the third inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 13, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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With last Wednesday’s start against the Yankees, Mariners hurler Hisashi Iwakuma pushed his 2016 innings total up to 2016. That clears the 162-inning hurdle for his 2017 option to vest at $14 million. However, as Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reports, the language in Iwakuma’s contract also stipulates that the right-hander finish the season without suffering a specific injury.

Iwakuma, 35, was in agreement with the Dodgers on a three-year contract back in December but failed the physical, which nullified the deal. He ended up signing with the Mariners on a one-year, $12 million deal with a full no-trade clause and club options for 2017 and ’18 that vest at specific inning thresholds (162 each or 324 for both seasons).

This season, Iwakuma has stayed healthy, making 26 starts to the tune of a 14-9 record, a 3.81 ERA and a 118/36 K/BB ratio in 163 innings.

Ichiro Suzuki passes Wade Boggs for 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 28: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins grounds out during the 2nd inning against the San Diego Padres at Marlins Park on August 28, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Eric Espada/Getty Images
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Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki deposited a single to left-center field in the fourth inning of Monday night’s game against the Mets, then added a double to center field in the eighth. Those mark hits No. 3,010 and 3,011 for Suzuki in his major league career, tying and then moving past Wade Boggs for sole possession of 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list.

Suzuki would come around to score on a double by Xavier Scruggs to break a scoreless tie in the eighth.

Here’s the video of Ichiro’s first hit.

By the end of the season, Suzuki will have presumably moved ahead of Rafael Palmeiro (26th; 3,020) and Lou Brock (25th; 3,023).

Suzuki was 2-for-4 after the double. With baseball’s fifth month nearly complete, the 42-year-old is currently batting .298/.371/.373.