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.