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February 24, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Mariners, Raul Ibanez run up score early for second straight win

For the second day in a row, the Mariners blew the San Diego Padres up early and cruised to a relatively easy 8-3 victory. Raul Ibanez did the damage today with a three-run homer off former Seattle and Yankees teammate Freddy Garcia in a five-run first inning that decided things from the get-go.

Michael Saunders and Michael Morse added doubles in the inning as the Mariners took a 5-0 lead. Then, after the Padres scored a run in the fourth, the Mariners ran up the score with three more runs in the fifth. Seattle finished the day with seven doubles among 16 hits.

Mariners congratulate each other on field moments after defeating San Diego Padres 8-3 in Cactus League play on Sunday.

Erasmo Ramirez turned in a scoreless first inning, allowing just one hit, while James Paxton retired three in a row in the second inning after giving up a leadoff single.

For Ibanez, the home run was similar to what Jason Bay did early on in Saturday’s game with a two-run shot. The two veterans were brought to town for their leadership ability, but also because the Mariners feel they can still play. Ibanez has always hit right-handed pitching well and wasted little time against Garcia, who he teamed with in New York last year.

“I was just looking for a pitch that I could hit hard somewhere,” said Ibanez, who finished 2-for-3 with the homer, a single, three RBI and a run scored . “I thought he might throw something else. With him, he throws so many different pitches — he’s got a great forkball, split thing and I though he might throw it there, and he did.”

Mariners manager Eric Wedge talks to reporters down on field Sunday after Seattle’s 8-3 win.

Ibanez said he’s had up-and-down springs in the past. Last year, with the Yankees, he got off to a notoriously bad start before turning it on late in camp.

“I definitely feel better this spring at the plate than I have the last couple of springs,” Ibanez said.

A big factor, he added, is getting to work with new hitting coach Dave Hansen again. The pair were teammates with the Mariners in 2004 and 2005.

“I used to go to him quite a bit in the dugout about hitting stuff,” Ibanez said. “So, we have areally nice realtionship over the years, he’s mentioned some stuff and we’re working on some things.”

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Ibanez has looked good all through camp so far.

“He’s strong, he’s in great shape, uses his hands well,” Wedge said.

“He’s a great example in that he never gives away an at-bat. The way he competes and the way he goes about his business, he’s going to give himself a chance each time he goes up there.”

Wedge and others are, naturally, montioring the 40-year-old Ibanez to make sure he still has the skills that have kept him in this game so long.

“With all of those (veteran) guys — but Raul in particular — you just need to have constant communication,” Wedge said. “He knows what he needs to do to be ready. Obviously, he’s still a tremendous player. When you’ve played as long as he’s played, he knows what he needs to do in regards to himself physically and mentally. And then aswe work through camp fundamentally, we’ll make sure we keep communicating with him and make sure that he’s ready.”

Jesus Montero went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Kyle Seager, Robert Andino and Stefen Romero all had two hits apiece as well. The Padres scored an unearned run off Charlie Furbush in the fourth, then were held scoreless until adding singles in the eighth and ninth. Lucas Luetge had a rough outing, giving up three three hits, a walk and an earned run in that eighth, but the Padres were otherwise shut down and out-hit 16-9 on the day.

Tomorrow’s start should be a good one, with Jeremy Bonderman back on the mound again. Remember, he hasn’t pitched since 2010.

Comments | More in Cactus League | Topics: Erasmo Ramirez, eric wedge, Raul Ibanez

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