In the top of the ninth inning against the Angels, Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez hit a solo home run to right field off of closer Ernesto Frieri. The blast was the 300th of Ibanez’s 18-year career, becoming the 137th player in Major League Baseball history to join the 300-homer club.
The home run was also the 29th of the season for Ibanez, tying Ted Williams for the most home runs hit in a single season by a 41-year-old player. Williams hit 29 in 1960, the final year of his career.
Ibanez also brought his slugging percentage up to .503. If he can keep it above .500 through the end of the season, he would be the first player since Barry Bonds in 2007 to post a .500 or better slugging percentage at the age of 40 or older (min. 450 plate appearances). Before Bonds, who also accomplished the feat in 2006, you have to go back to Harold Baines in 1999 to find the last occurrence. The Mariners, who brought Ibanez in on a one-year, $2.75 million deal, have certainly gotten their money’s worth out of the veteran.
Ibanez’s contribution was not enough for the Mariners, however. The solo shot brought them within one run at 6-5, but Frieri was able to shut the door for his 36th save of the season.
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.
Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.
The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.