Ibanez keeps eyes on the bigger prize
Phillies newcomer has World Series trophy in his sights
PHILADELPHIA -- Raul Ibanez seemed completely unaffected in the Phillies' clubhouse Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Sure, but Ibanez kept things cool following a 5-1 victory over the Rockies in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. Ibanez, who signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Phillies in December, came to Philadelphia because he wanted a chance to win. He had not been in the postseason since 2000, when he played as a reserve outfielder for the Mariners. Ibanez figured at 37, Philadelphia would be his best -- and perhaps last -- opportunity.
Ibanez made the most of his chances Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. He ripped a 3-1 changeup off Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez down the right-field line and into the corner for a fifth-inning double to score Jayson Werth from first base and give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Ibanez also hit a 1-0 fastball off Rockies left-hander Joe Beimel to score Werth from third in the sixth inning and give the Phillies a 5-0 lead.
Philadelphia got the win, but they need two more victories to win the series and 10 more victories to defend their World Series title.
"It definitely feels good to help out the team, and be a part of it and contribute," Ibanez said. "You feel thankful for the opportunity, but at the same time, you stay focused on what you've got to do."
Ibanez entered the postseason hitting .273 (24-for-88) with five doubles, seven home runs and 14 RBIs in his final 27 games. He had hit .210 (34-for-162) with 11 doubles, one triple, five homers and 20 RBIs in the previous 45 games, when he returned from the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin.
Ibanez started the season hitting .312 (78-for-250) with 16 doubles, two triples, 22 homers and 59 RBIs in 62 games. The oufielder said he has felt healthy for some time. He has looked better at the plate lately.
"We won, that's the important thing," Ibanez said. "It was a battle. Jimenez is a great pitcher. Cliff [Lee] did a great job. He did the little things right, so it worked out for us. ... It felt great to be part of this team. It definitely felt great. We were able to do it together as a team. We did the little things right."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.