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.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.