Raul Ibanez said most of his teammates didn’t know he turned 41 on Sunday since they were on the road. A few of the young guys gave him grief, but he was able to head home and enjoy a low-key family night after getting out of Minnesota early.
Monday, he had a 13-pitch at-bat that ended with a two-run homer in the third. A few things to note about that at-bat, which started with Ibanez down 0-2:
It tied Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt for the longest in MLB this season. It was the most pitches Ibanez had seen in an at-bat that ended in a homer. The prior high for him was nine pitches.
“(He) threw everything except the curveball,” Ibanez said. “I was just pretty much battling. He was fighting. That was one of those fun battles. That’s what the game is all about.”
Manager Eric Wedge called it one of the best at-bats he’s seen in the Major Leagues.
Ibanez has hit 10-plus home runs for 13 consecutive seasons. It was his third home run this year off a lefty after hitting none last season. He’s hitting .282 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in his last 22 games.
And, he thinks the Mariners have the resources in the clubhouse to turn things around. Here’s his take on that:
“Staying together and staying after it is going to be the key for us and not getting discouraged by some of those tough losses,” Ibanez said. “I see those tough losses … you can make whatever you want out of it. I see a team that’s had six losses or so in some really tough situations. As long as we take it positively and build on that, then really good things can happen.”
Asked how to avoid getting discouraged, Ibanez continued his straight-ahead approach.
“You just don’t,” Ibanez said. “Keep fighting. I keep saying the same words, but it’s really all I have for you. It’s a battle of wills. This game is a battle wills. When we pull it together and we pull together as a team and will things together, then good things will happen. It may sound corny, but it’s true.”
Some more news and notes from Monday night’s 4-2 win over the White Sox, who are a mess in their own right as losers of seven in a row:
> Tom Wilhelmsen picked up the save. He wasn’t dominating in the ninth, but better than he had been. His velocity was back up into the mid-90s. He picked up two strike outs and threw a first-pitch strike to all four hitters faced. Wilhelmsen walked Alex Rios to start the inning. Rios took second on indifference, so he was able to score when Adam Dunn singled in the ninth.
“He was better,” Wedge said. “Still not quite as sharp as we know he can be. (But) more toward his similar self.”
Wedge had Carter Capps and Oliver Perez up when Wilhelmsen was on the mound, just to be safe. Those two were also up in the eighth, but weren’t needed.
> Joe Saunders again pitched well at Safeco. He’s 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA there this season.
> Brendan Ryan was thrown out trying to steal third in the seventh inning with one out. He was trying to get in position for a sac fly from Jason Bay to drive him in. Ryan was running on his own.
> Ryan also made an excellent play on a hard grounder up the middle in the sixth. He shoveled the ball with his glove to Nick Franklin to start a double play. It was a big play. The Mariners were up 4-1 at the time, and it cleared the bases with Alex Rios coming up. Rios doubled. Since the bases were clear, no damage was done. Saunder struck out Paul Konerko to end the inning.