Ichiro Suzuki remembers the calls from the crowd in the Bronx. Eleven years ago, Suzuki was a rookie outfielder for the Mariners being taunted by Yankee fans in the American League Championship Series.

"I had played right field all year and for some reason, I was in left field (in Game 5) and the crowd was yelling 'Sayonara Ichiro, Sayonara Ichiro.' It was a tough moment for me," Suzuki said Wednesday night after the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 14-2, and clinched the top seed in the American League playoffs. "It was the night we got eliminated and it was a very tough moment."

It was also Suzuki's last playoff appearance, until now.

Getting back to the postseason was one reason Suzuki had been interested in the Mariners trading him this summer, but Wednesday night, Suzuki said he could not think about the personal achievement.

"I came in the middle of this and I just wanted to contribute," Suzuki said of being traded to the Yankees on July 23 for righthanders Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell. "I feel like we made that first step, we were able to make the playoffs. And now we are going forward."

Suzuki has been a big contributor down the stretch as the Yankees fought off the Orioles for the American League East title and home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. In 67 games with the Bombers, Suzuki hit .325 with five homers and 27 RBI.

He has also been a veteran presence in the clubhouse, fitting in with a team he feels has the temperament to succeed in the playoffs.