Sports

Step aside, Ichiro, Murton's the man in Japan now

Former major leaguer Matt Murton broke Ichiro Suzuki's record for the most hits in a single season in Japanese Professional Baseball on Tuesday.

Murton got his 211th hit of the season, a two-run single to center in the second inning for the Hanshin Tigers against the Yakult Swallows. He added two more hits in the game to lift his total to 213.

Ichiro set the previous record of 210 in 1994 for the Orix BlueWave.

When Ichiro set the record, the regular season was 130 games. Since then, the season has been extended by 14 games and Murton was playing in his 142nd game of the season.

“1994 and 2010 are two different seasons,” Murton said. “He did it in 130 games. It is what it is, it’s a great honor.”

A first-round selection of the Boston Red Sox in 2003, Murton was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2005 and had brief stints with Oakland and Colorado before going to Japan this season.

Last month, Suzuki became the first major league player with 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons.

COMEBACKERS

Tim Hudson and Francisco Liriano know what it’s like to recover from elbow ligament replacement surgery. Now they have something else in common: the comeback player of the year award.

Hudson won the National League honor after leading the Atlanta Braves to the wild card, and Liriano grabbed the American League award with a consistent season that helped the Minnesota Twins win the Central.

The awards were voted on by 30 MLB.com beat writers.

Hudson, 35, had elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2008 and was limited to seven starts in 2009. But the right-hander went 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA this year.

Liriano, 26, was 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA for Minnesota this season and will start Game 1 of the AL division series against the New York Yankees tonight. The lefty missed the 2007 season after Tommy John surgery and was limited by injuries the past two years.

SHORT HOPS

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jordany Gomez has been suspended for 50 games under baseball’s minor league drug program after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substances phentermine and mephentermine. Former Indians manager Eric Wedge is the first managerial candidate to interview with the Pittsburgh Pirates as they seek John Russell’s successor. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts thinks the headaches that forced him to miss the final six days of the season might have come from a self-inflicted blow to the head with his bat after striking out in the ninth inning of a game at Tampa Bay on Sept. 27.

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