Aoki reaches 2,000-hit milestone

Houston outfielder Norichika Aoki recorded the 2,000th hit of his career between Japan and the U.S. on Sunday during the Astros’ 12-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. The milestone hit earned Aoki a spot in the Meikyukai or Golden Players Club, a prestigious group reserved for batters who reach 2,000 hits or pitchers with 200 career victories or 250 saves.

Aoki had 1,284 hits in Japan with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and currently has 717 in the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and the Astros.

After connecting on a RBI double in the fourth inning, Aoki’s 2,000th hit came on a single to left field to start Houston’s half of the sixth. Several Astros came out of the dugout to applaud, including Jose Altuve, who got the ball from the Angels and pretended to throw it into the stands before putting it away for safekeeping. Play was stopped for a minute as the video board showed a graphic congratulating Aoki on reaching the milestone. He tipped his cap and bowed to the crowd several times after receiving a loud ovation.

“Once I got my 2,000th hit, it brought back memories of my very first professional hit,” he said. “It kind of made me look back, and the passion I have for baseball still hasn’t changed.”

He matched his season high in hits with a single in the eighth inning for a 3-for-4 afternoon.

Aoki was presented with a Golden Players Club jacket by fellow member Norihiro Komada after the game and the Astros gave him an oversized bottle of wine signed by the team.

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