Ibanez hits 300th HR, but Mariners lose to Angels
Raul Ibanez reached a personal milestone that gave him a place in history with Ted Williams.
Ibanez hit his 300th career home run in the ninth inning against Los Angeles Angels closer Ernesto Frieri on Saturday night, but it went for naught in the Seattle Mariners' 6-5 loss.
It was the 29th homer this year for the 17-year veteran, tying ''The Splendid Splinter'' for the most by any player during the season in which he was 41 years old.
''I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be in this situation,'' Ibanez said. ''Anytime you're in the company of the great Ted Williams - and it's just this one thing that I have in common with him - it's a great blessing. I read his book when I was in high school, and he was the greatest hitter that ever lived.''
What made this milestone even sweeter for Ibanez was that it came with the Mariners, the team he began his big league career with in 1996. This is his third stint with the club.
''I've always considered myself a Mariner,'' said Ibanez, who hit a career-high 34 homers in 2009 with Philadelphia. ''I came into a situation where I wasn't going to play that much, but due to injuries and other things, I got to play a lot more than I was going to.
''It was very kind of them to do that, and I'm very thankful for them,'' Ibanez added. ''I don't think they knew but it worked out great. Fifteen years ago there were questions about me whether I was even a major league player. I think it's a good lesson that I try to teach my kids: That it's more about perseverance and believing in yourself, and not listening to the people that doubt you.''
Joe Saunders (11-16) tied the Astros' Lucas Harrell and the Cubs' Edwin Jackson for the most losses in the majors. Saunders gave up six runs and six hits over seven innings and tied a career best with nine strikeouts. The 32-year-old left-hander threw 125 pitches, one short of his career high.
''I can't really put it into words how frustrating this season has been,'' Saunders said. ''I felt like even tonight the results didn't show how good I threw. I thought I threw the ball really good. It was just one of those things where it was the right place at the right time for them. It was one of those years. I think I might go 22-5 next year, so watch out.''
Collin Cowgill homered and also stole home for the Angels. Rookie Grant Green hit a three-run double to help Jerome Williams (9-10) win his fourth straight start.
The right-hander allowed one run, five hits and five walks in 5 2-3 innings. Williams left after No. 9 hitter Henry Blanco snapped an 0-for-32 drought with a bloop single.
Cowgill walked and scored in the second inning and hit a solo homer in the fourth. He tripled to open the seventh, then broke for the plate as Andrew Romine squared around to try a suicide-squeeze bunt, and scored when Saunders' pitch went to the backstop.
''I knew it was coming. It was just a matter of when in the count,'' Saunders said. ''I had a changeup grip and tried to throw it high so he couldn't bunt it, and it just kind of sailed on me a little too far outside. That ended up being huge.''
Frieri posted his 36th save in 40 attempts. But despite the Angels' 21st victory in 28 games, they were officially eliminated from postseason contention when Tampa Bay beat Baltimore.
After starting the year with big expectations, boosted by the winter signing of former MVP Josh Hamilton, the injury-plagued Halos didn't spend one day atop the AL West after winning their season opener at Cincinnati. They have been no fewer than nine games out of first place since the All-Star break. This is their fourth straight year without a postseason berth, after winning five division titles.
''I think the one word that still lingers out of all this clubhouse and how we all feel is certainly `frustration,''' manager Mike Scioscia said.
NOTES: Abraham Almonte scored Seattle's second run on a seventh-inning balk by rookie Cory Rasmus. ... The Mariners faced a right-handed starter for the 12th straight game, a streak that will end Sunday against C.J. Wilson. It's their longest such streak since 2010. ... Justin Smoak was hitless in three at-bats against Williams, and is 1 for 19 lifetime against him with seven strikeouts. ... The Mariners are 0-68 this season when trailing after eight innings, and 6-221 during Eric Wedge's three years as manager.