NEW YORK — Sitting in the dugout about two hours before Wednesday’s game started, Mariners manager Eric Wedge was talking about his team’s loss the night before.
The Mariners pushed on CC Sabathia but could never topple the humongous left-hander, which made Wedge reiterate the importance of knocking a pitcher out when he was wobbling.
Wednesday, there were no such issues. The Mariners flattened Phil Hughes.
Raul Ibañez hit a grand slam in a seven-run first inning to send the Mariners to a comfortable 12-2 win over the Yankees in the Bronx.
The seven-run burst was the Mariners’ largest since the scored nine first-inning runs July 30, 2003, against Detroit.
Ibañez’s grand slam was the 11th of his career and seventh as a Mariners player. He’s now tied with Alex Rodriguez for sixth on the club’s all-time list.
Wednesday’s grand slam had nothing to do with New York’s shallow right-field fence. It landed in the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center field.
The 40-year-old did not relent. He continued his Bronx bashing with a two-run homer to left field in the fifth inning. The last time Ibañez had a multi-homer game
was Sept. 22, 2012, when he played for the Yankees against Oakland … in Yankee Stadium.
Considering all the monuments and history around the park, maybe Ibañez can at least get his name on a portion of sidewalk in the Bronx. He has nine home runs in his past 11 games at Yankee Stadium.
“I’ve been feeling better at the plate coming into this series,” Ibañez said. “Try not to make too much out if it, just try to go out and grind out at-bats.”
May has been a sweeping reversal for Ibañez. During a haggard April, Ibañez hit .158 with 15 strikeouts. In May, he’s hitting .421 with four home runs and 12 RBI.
The Mariners’ offense has been in tow midway through the month. Wednesday night’s battering of the Yankees raised the Mariners’ run-per-game average in May to 5. It’s just an 11-game sample, during which the Mariners are 7-4, but progress nonetheless after averaging 3.38 runs per game in April.
The initial seven-run lead seemed sufficient for Hisashi Iwakuma over three starts, not just one. After all, he had allowed just 10 earned runs in his previous eight starts.
After Vernon Wells hit a first-inning homer, Iwakuma snuffed out any chance of a New York resurrection. Again blending his veering off-speed pitches with a snappy fastball, Iwakuma picked up his fifth win of the season. He allowed two runs in his seven innings, offense sufficient enough to actually raise his ERA (1.84) and WHIP (0.78).
Meanwhile, Ibañez’s power was supplemented by Kyle Seager’s. Seager was joyous when he received a new box of bats — which were actually Robert Andino models — a few hours before the game. He hit a three-run homer, his fifth of the season, in the sixth. He was 2-for-4 with a walk.
The Mariners (19-21) have 26 hits in the first two games of this series. Wednesday’s dismantling was so complete that Yankees starting shortstop Alberto Gonzalez took the mound with two outs in the ninth. The Mariners didn’t have to worry about cashing in against him.
“I like the way that we’ve been playing of late,” Ibañez said. “There’s some good things going on here.”
Aaron Harang (1-4, 7.30 ERA) takes on left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-2, 3.83) at 4:05 p.m. Thursday. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.