The Mariners quit twice on Raul Ibanez. Apparently, he’s not going to let them forget it. Even at 40.
Ibanez hit a 420-foot solo homer and a run-scoring double while pitcher Phil Hughes looked like Bob Gibson to the futile Mariners lineup in a 6-2 Yankees victory over Seattle Saturday afternoon in the Bronx. The loss dropped the Mariners (15-20) into last place in the American League West for the first time this season.
Despite coming in with a 6.67 earned run average in six starts, Hughes, as have so many pitchers before him, stumped the listless Mariners offense, allowing just six hits and one run in seven innings for his third victory of the year. The Mariners had a runner as far as second base just once until Mike Carp hit a solo home run in the seventh inning.
Friday night, Ibanez, who has a .362 lifetime average against the Mariners, hit a three-run homer off Felix Hernandez, the decisive blow in a 6-2 triumph. Saturday, Ibanez went after Mariners starter Hector Noesi, the ex-Yankee who was part of the storyline, with Jesus Montero, coming into the series — the great talent giveaway by New York in the off-season to the Mariners.
Instead, it was Ibanez, a Mariner from 1996-2000 and again from 2004-2008, who dominated the conversation. In a four-run second inning that decided the game, he doubled home Mark Teixeira, who also doubled.
Ibanez came home on a double by Russell Martin, who scored when recent call-up Jayson Nix, hitting ninth with a career .207 average and playing shortstop so Derek Jeter could DH, got his first hit of the season — a home run.
The ball barely cleared the 314-foot fence in right after Ichiro’s jump took him into the wall instead of straight up for a ball that landed in the first row.
Even though Noesi gave up only one more run through seven innings — the Ibanez blast in the fourth — there are few slip-ups permitted against the Yankees lineup, even to the bottom third of the order. He retired the last eight hitters he faced, and gave up six hits, five earned runs and had three strikeouts and no walks.
Robinson Cano singled home the Yankees’ final run in the eighth inning against reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. In the top of the ninth, Carp hit what umpires believed was his second homer of the game. But a TV review reduced the homer to a run-scoring double.
Another elderly Yankee, Andy Pettitte, 40 next month, will make his 2012 pitching debut Sunday against Kevin Millwood, 37, when the Mariners wrap up the three-game series before moving on to Boston.