The Seattle Mariners jumped all over the visiting Boston Red Sox last night, winning 11-4. They were helped by what has become a familiar sight for Mariners fans both at home and on the road: a home run by Raul Ibanez.
The numbers that Ibanez is putting up wouldn’t be especially notable if he were in his prime. But he is 41 — most ball players are enjoying retirement at his age, and Ibanez is still competing with players who are young enough to be his kids.
The slugger is batting .260 with 22 home runs and 51 RBIs so far this season. Those 22 homers are good for seventh in all of baseball and first for the Mariners. No. 2 on the team is Kyle Seager with 13. Ibanez’s home run total is now just seven shy of the record 29 home runs hit by Ted Williams at age 41 in 1960 for the Red Sox.
Interestingly enough, the veteran is having one of the best seasons of his long career in Seattle, the team that drafted him in the 36th round of the 1992 amateur draft and for whom Ibanez had his major league debut four years later in 1994. He is back now for his third stint with the Mariners after having an incredibly clutch postseason performance for the New York Yankees in 2012.
Ibanez’s best year in terms of home runs was in 2009 with the Philadelphia Phillies, when he hit 34. He has five in just his last 10 games with the Mariners (a period in which he has hit an impressive .349) and is on pace to hit 50 homers this year if he stays healthy and active.
With just six games left against the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels before the All Star Break, the Mariners are hoping Ibanez continues his hot hitting.