by Curtis Crabtree
SAFECO FIELD - Raul Ibanez went 2 for 4 with four RBI and a home run to help pick up starter Felix Hernandez after a shaky first two innings as the Seattle Mariners earned a 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
The Mariners offense compiled 11 hits and took advantage of White Sox starter Jake Peavy early in the game to jump out to a 5-2 lead through three innings. Peavy left in the third inning after allowing six runs on seven hits when he suffered a rib injury on his left side.
Hernandez allowed a run in each of the first two innings including a mammoth home run from Adam Dunn. But Hernandez settled in and cruised to his seventh win of the season. He allowed four runs on six hits and struck out eight.
The Mariners are now facing a dilemma at the catcher position. Jesus Sucre was hit with a bat on his left hand after a swinging strike from Alexei Ramirez. Manager Eric Wedge said the doctors thought they saw "something" small on the X-ray he received and it could necessitate a roster move.
The problem for Seattle is there doesn't appear to be any easy options available. Jesus Montero is on the disabled list in Tacoma after suffering a meniscus tear. The Mariners don't have any other catcher on the 40-man roster and would need to add a player to the roster in order to add him to the active 25-man roster.
Mike Zunino and Brandon Bantz are both at Triple-A Tacoma and could be options in a pinch. The Rainiers are at home so getting a player to Seattle before tomorrow's day game wouldn't be a problem if necessary. Neither is on the 40-man roster. The team could move Montero to the 60-day disabled list to free up a spot for either Zunino or Bantz.
Seattle may want to play it slow with Zunino before calling him up. He's hitting just .228 on the season with Tacoma and the organization may feel he needs more seasoning before gettng the call to the big leagues. It could mean Bantz is the option as a stop-gap until Sucre can return.
Wedge said they would know more in the morning about whether Sucre would be available and a move needed to be made.
Turning Point: After Dunn's home run pulled the White Sox within a run in the second inning, Ibanez doubled to the wall in right field in the bottom of the third to score two more and give the Mariners a comfortable lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Player Of The Game: Ibanez. The ageless one continues to show the rest of the Mariners lineup how to put together a professional at-bat and has come up big in key situations all season.
Next Up: The Mariners have a day game to close out the series with the White Sox on Wednesday. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-1, 2.13 ERA) takes on RHP Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.04 ERA) as the Mariners try to extend the White Sox's losing streak to nine games.