Ibanez’s historic night not enough for Angels vs. Mets in extra-inning loss

With a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth, Raul Ibanez becomes one of 12 active players with 2,000 hits and 300 homers.

Richard Mackson

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Just up the road from Disneyland, you couldn’t help but think there was a little magic that carried over into Angel Stadium on Saturday night.

Los Angeles’ Raul Ibanez stepped up to the plate, 0 for 3 on the night, standing on career hit No. 1,999, and representing the tying run with the Angels trailing the New York Mets by three runs in the bottom of the ninth.

He tied the game and made history with one swing of the bat — a three-run homer to right field for career hit No. 2,000 to send the game into extra innings.

Unfortunately for the Angels, there wasn’t any more magic for them to squeeze out of Saturday night, falling 7-6 in 13 innings.

Reaching 2,000 hits was so far removed from Ibanez’s mind, he couldn’t even dream about it.

In 2001, he was designated for assignment twice by the Kansas City Royals, the last time coming in June of that year and just after his 29th birthday. He was just hoping for an opportunity to play in the big leagues.

"Two thousand hits? I was hoping to get 2,000 at-bats," Ibanez said.  

In 2002, he played a then-career high 137 games with the Royals, becoming an everyday player for the first time at the age of 30. Now in his first year in Anaheim, the Angels designated hitter has played in at least 123 games in each of the previous 12 seasons.  

The 41-year-old is thankful. His career could’ve continued on its downward trek; instead, he can say he’s a member of the 2,000 hit club.

"It’s a huge blessing," he said. "Thank God I’m still standing here with the opportunity to live my dream and play this great game."

Thanks to Ibanez, Angels starter Jered Weaver escaped dropping his first three starts of a season for the first time in his career.

Weaver was pulled with two outs in the seventh inning. Despite giving up consecutive two-out singles, Weaver wanted to finish the inning but skipper Mike Scioscia thought otherwise.

"His ball-strike ratio might have been as off as I’ve ever seen it with Jered," Scioscia said.  

Of Weaver’s 99 pitches, just 50 were strikes. He tossed 6 2/3 innings, gave up three hits and four earned runs, tied a career-high with four walks and struck out five. 

The Angels used eight pitchers in the game, the last being reliever Matt Shoemaker who gave up a solo home run to Mets catcher Anthony Recker to lead off the 13th inning. Recker was 2 for 5 on the night with three RBI.

The loss ends the Angels short stay at .500. It’s also the fourth loss in five games at Angel Stadium to start the 2014 season.