- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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Raul Ibanez isn't one to focus on his achievements, preferring to compliment others and focus on the team's accomplishments. He says not taking time to appreciate his feats and success is one of his "not so great qualities," as he is never satisfied with his work.
His teammates, though, certainly appreciate what Ibanez has meant to the Yankees this season after he clubbed his seventh home run and drove in two runs Saturday.
"He's unstoppable right now," catcher Russell Martin said.
The 39-year-old Ibanez is now tied for the team lead in RBIs with 21 and tied for second in home runs after his 2-for-3 day in the Yankees' 6-2 win over the Mariners. Ibanez has hit in six straight games and has four home runs over his last six hits.
"I really just try to take it one pitch at a time and try to help prepare the team to win," Ibanez said about his hot start. "That's really all I think about."
Ibanez, signed to be the team's designated hitter in the offseason, has been thrust into regular action with left fielder Brett Gardner on the disabled list. Ibanez has shined for the Yankees through the team's first 33 games with his .282 average and his penchant for clutch RBIs, as 11 of his 21 runs batted in have come with two outs.
Saturday, he gave the Yankees a 1-0 in the second lead when he doubled to left on a pitch that manager Joe Girardi said he wasn't even sure if it was near the plate. In the fourth, he blasted a homer to left-center to give the Yankees a 5-0 edge. Four of his seven long balls on the year have come with two outs and he's homered on back-to-back days.
"He's a professional hitter," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who has seen Ibanez hit two homers and drive in five runs against his former team. "On that 3-2 count with the home run he just sold out and was all in on a fastball and got a fastball up and didn't miss it. That's what professional hitters do and he's a good one."
Ibanez credited his work with hitting coach Kevin Long as helping him to his early success. After hitting .245 with Philadelphia last year, Ibanez said he believes that Long has helped him get back to the type of hitter he used to be. He's learned some new tidbits and appreciates how Long is always supportive, calling his hitting coach "fantastic."
That work has made Ibanez as dangerous as any No. 7 hitter in baseball, accounting for his home runs and RBIs. Like always, though, Ibanez prefers not to dwell on what's happened.
"I don't really allow myself to get caught up in enjoying the moments because tomorrow's a new game," Ibanez said. "The preparation for tomorrow started now."
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