Raul Ibanez loved hitting at Yankee Stadium as a member of the team last season.
Switching to a Seattle Mariners uniform doesn't appear to have changed that in the slightest.
Ibanez will try to help the Mariners to a rare series win in New York on Thursday night when he takes his swings against fellow 40-year-old Andy Pettitte .
After a solid regular season in a part-time role with the Yankees in 2012, Ibanez electrified Yankee Stadium crowds in October by going 6 for 13 with three homers in five postseason games there. He went deep twice in Game 3 of the division series against Baltimore, including the game-winning shot in the 12th inning.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge decided to start the lefty-hitting Ibanez against southpaw CC Sabathia in Tuesday's series opener, and his left fielder responded with a home run in a 4-3 loss.
Ibanez continued his offensive barrage in the Bronx on Wednesday with a grand slam as Seattle opened a 7-0 lead in the first inning en route to a 12-2 victory. He also connected for a two-run homer in the fifth, completing his 17th multihomer game.
In his last 12 games at Yankee Stadium, Ibanez is 18 for 36 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs.
"I said silliness happens here. There's also something that happens here with Raul," teammate Brendan Ryan said. "It's awesome."
Wedge figures to start his hottest hitter against another tough lefty in Pettitte, who has held Ibanez to one hit - a homer - in 12 at-bats over the past five years.
Kyle Seager added a three-run shot Wednesday for the Mariners (19-21), who set season highs in runs and hits with 16.
A win in the finale would give Seattle only its second series win in the Bronx since the 2004 season. The Mariners, 4-0-1 in their last five series overall, have lost 29 of 42 on the road against the Yankees (25-15).
Vernon Wells hit his 10th home run - and fourth in nine games - for New York, which had won seven of eight.
A matchup with Kansas City on Saturday came at an opportune time for Pettitte (4-2, 3.83 ERA), who gave up two runs over seven innings with one walk and seven strikeouts in a 3-2 road victory. The left-hander, who improved to 15-3 lifetime against the Royals, had been tagged for 11 runs and 14 hits over 9 1-3 innings in his previous two starts.
"Whenever you get knocked around, it's not a good feeling. You never want that doubt to creep in that you're not able to get it done," Pettitte said. "Hopefully I can continue to get sharper and sharper."
Pettitte is 11-12 with a 4.39 ERA against the Mariners but has held them to two runs or fewer in six of his last eight meetings.
Jason Bay is 14 for 35 (.400) with a homer off Pettitte.
Noesi, who began his major league career with the Yankees in 2011, is making his first start of the season following four relief appearances. In his lone start against New York on May 12, 2012, the right-hander gave up five runs - including a homer to Ibanez - in seven innings of a 6-2 loss.
|April 23, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 22, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Torn right hamstring|
|April 15, 2013||Stephen Pryor||15-Day DL||Torn right lat muscle|
|April 12, 2013||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Fractured finger|
|April 11, 2013||Michael Saunders||15-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
|April 11, 2013||Michael Saunders||15-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
|New York Yankees|
|May 06, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||15-Day DL||Left ribcage strain|
|May 05, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||Day-to-Day||Left game - tightness in left ribcage|
|May 03, 2013||David Robertson||Day-to-Day||Sore left hamstring|
|April 28, 2013||Kevin Youkilis||15-Day DL||Lumbar spine strain|
|April 28, 2013||Joba Chamberlain||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|April 27, 2013||Francisco Cervelli||60-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
NEW YORK (AP) -- For the New York Yankees , MRI has become a statistic that's just as important as ERA and RBIs.
Andy Pettitte trudged off in the fifth inning with a back injury.
Chris Stewart limped off after seven with an injured leg.
A 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night seemed more significant than just another defeat.
Twelve Yankees already have been on the disabled list this year, costing a total of 332 games. While they lead the AL East at 25-16, how many more injuries can they withstand?
"I think everybody else out of this room probably already felt we passed that point," said Brett Gardner , stranded on third base when Robinson Cano hit a game-ending groundout.
Seeking his 250th win, Pettitte started feeling uncomfortable in the fourth inning, when Seattle took a 2-1 lead on an infield single by Brendan Ryan , who had been in a 5-for-60 slide.
"When I came off in the fourth, it just completely locked up and I got the trainer to give me a little massage down here with some heat, and it loosened up and loosened up really good," Pettitte said.
It lasted only until his first pitch of the fifth, to Jason Bay .
"It completely locked back up on me," Pettitte said. "I couldn't get extended at all. I really just felt like I was kind of cutting everything off and really just trying to throw it in there, just almost slower than slow to tell you the truth."
Pettitte struck out Bay and Kyle Seager . By then, Yankees manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild noticed Pettitte's velocity had dropped, and they went to the mound and took him out.
"He is 40 years old, and we're probably going to go through this probably a little bit." Girardi said.
Pettitte missed a start in April because of lower back spasms. This was diagnosed as a tight left trapezius muscle, near his pitching shoulder. It was too soon to determine whether he would miss his next turn.
"There's no doubt I'm getting old. But I don't want to sit there and tell you that that's the exact reason why," Pettitte said. "I look around the league and I see all kind of people on the DL with all kind of problems that are a lot younger than me, too."
Stewart pulled up at third base in the seventh on Cano's infield single, which drew the Yankees within a run. He stayed in for Vernon Wells ' inning-ending popout, then was sent for an MRI of his left groin.
"He felt something," Girardi said. "He said it didn't pop."
Stewart, who took over as the Yankees' starting catcher when Francisco Cervelli broke a hand last month, was replaced by Austin Romine . New York doesn't have any other available catchers on its 40-man roster and would have to clear a spot for Bobby Wilson , who has been starting at Triple-A.
"Injuries are a part of the game, and some years you're going to have more than others," Girardi said. "And right now we have a few."
Pettitte (4-3) allowed two runs, four hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings with five strikeouts, struggling again with his command. In the fourth, he ran into foul territory on the third base side to make a basket catch on Raul Ibanez 's low popup but said that didn't figure into his back problem.
Seattle had injury issues, too.
Aaron Harang , Seattle's scheduled starter, felt a twinge in his back Wednesday and notified the Mariners, who in turn told Hector Noesi to prepare for his first big league start of the season.
A 26-year-old right-hander, Noesi was acquired by the Mariners from the Yankees in January 2012 in the trade that sent promising pitcher Michael Pineda to New York and made four relief appearances for Seattle this year. He gave up an unearned run and three hits in 4 1-3 innings, leaving with two on.
Lefty Oliver Perez (1-0), his career revived in Seattle, entered with runners at the corners and struck out Gardner and retired Jayson Nix on a popup.
Seattle also got runs on Dustin Ackley 's RBI double in the second and Michael Morse 's sixth-inning homer off former Mariners pitcher Shawn Kelley , a drive that bounced off the divider between Monument Park and the Yankees bullpen in right-center for his 10th homer this season.
Granderson singled in the second and scored when David Adams doubled for his first big league RBI. In his third game back from a broken arm, Granderson made his third career start at DH and had three hits. He doubled in the eighth but Carter Capps retired rookie David Adams on a popup and struck out Ichiro Suzuki , who one inning earlier singled to stop an 0-for-22 slide.
Tom Wilhelmsen finished to remain perfect in 11 save chances. He allowed a one-out single to Gardner, who stole second and third. He struck out Nix - leaving right-handed batters 0 for 30 against him this year - then retired Cano on a groundout to shortstop.
"What can you say? Nobody's going to feel sorry us," Gardner related. "We can't take the day off tomorrow."
NOTES: Girardi said SS Derek Jeter (broken ankle) should be out of a walking boot soon. ... RHP Joba Chamberlain (strained oblique) will need at least one more minor league rehab outing before the Yankees activate him from the DL. ... New York 1B Mark Teixeira (wrist) hit several long homers on curveballs off a pitching machine at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla. 3B Alex Rodriguez , coming back from hip surgery in January, is hitting off a tee and swinging at soft toss flips in a batting cage as he wraps up his second week of baseball activities. ... Travis Hafner (sore right shoulder) took batting practice and hopes to be able to play Friday. ... The Yankees optioned RHP Brett Marshall back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recalled RHP Dellin Betances from the Triple-A team.