Hard to tell which was the most surprising number Wednesday: That the NBA would leave at least $100 million on the table in voting 22-8 to reject the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, or the seven runs the Mariners scored in the first inning off New York’s Phil Hughes en route to a 12-2, big-time thumping of the Yankees, featuring two home runs and six RBIs from Raul Ibanez and a three-run jack by Kyle Seager.
Ibanez ripped a grand slam off Hughes to highlight the seven-run first and added a two-run jolt in the fifth in support of Hisashi Iwakuma as the Mariners reached the quarter pole with a 19-21 record, virtually tied with Oakland (20-22) for second place in the AL West. Last year, the Mariners went 16-24 in their first 40 games.
The Mariners, who have won four series and split one since April 27, can win their fifth series in less than a month by beating the Yankees Thursday. The 12 runs (on 16 hits to New York’s eight) Wednesday were the most by a Seattle team in Yankee Stadium since a 15-11 victory May 4, 2007.
Seven Seattle hitters — Michael Saunders (2-for-4), Seager (2-for-4), Kendrys Morales (2-for-5), Michael Morse (2-for-4), Justin Smoak (2-for-4), Ibanez (2-for-5) and Jesus Montero (2-for-5) — had multi-hit game. Every Seattle starter had a hit.
Ibanez, who hit a two-run homer off CC Sabathia Tuesday in a 4-3 loss, drilled his second and third road homers of the season as the Mariners enjoyed their biggest offensive explosion since April 9 when they scored nine runs against the Houston Astros (a 16-9 loss).
The fateful first began with a walk to Dustin Ackley and continued with a Seager single that advanced Ackley to third. Morales plated Ackley with a single, Morse brought home Seager with a single, Smoak walked on four pitches, then Ibanez launched his grand slam. The Mariners added a seventh run when Michael Saunders, batting for the second time in the inning, brought home Montero with a base hit.
Probably dazed that he was able to start his night with a 7-0 lead, Iwakuma gave up a home run ball in the bottom of the inning to Vernon Wells to cut Seattle’s lead to 7-1.
Ibanez hit his second home run on a 2-2 count, scoring Morse, who walked on four pitches. The Yankees got a run back in the bottom of the inning on Chris Stewart’s home run.
Seager delivered a three-run bomb in the sixth as the Mariners took a 12-2 lead.
Iwakuma, improving to 5-1, worked 7.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on eight hits. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. As a reflection of how good his season has been, Iwakuma’s ERA jumped from 1.74 to 1.84.
Thursday, RHP Aaron Harang (7-4, 7.30 ERA) will go for Seattle opposite LHP Andy Pettitte (4-2, 3.83).
NOTES: Felix Hernandez, who tweaked his back while fielding a ground ball Tuesday, forcing him out of the game, apparently is good to go for his next start . . . OF Franklin Gutierrez, who worked out at Safeco Field Wednesday, could begin a rehab assignment with AAA Tacoma Thursday or Friday . . . Charlie Furbush’s blown save Tuesday was just the second by the Mariners this season . . . Former Mariner Ichiro went 0-for-4 Wednesday and is 0-for-8 in the series.