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Honors for Bannister, Ibanez

Honors for Bannister, Ibanez

Heading into Sunday with a three-game skid, the Royals gave the ball to Brian Bannister, who also had a personal streak of his own.

Luckily for Kansas City, the pitcher's good fortune continued as Bannister notched his third straight win, allowing just three hits and one unearned run in a 5-1 win over Minnesota.

But the victory did more than facilitate the Royals' climb back into the win column; it also helped Bannister garner his first weekly honors. The righty was named the American League's Co-Player of the Week on Monday, sharing the award with Seattle's Raul Ibañez.

"Today is really all about Brian Bannister -- a complete game, no earned runs, faced four over the minimum," Royals manager Trey Hillman said on Sunday. "A pretty good day.

"Banny is what he is. He's a very good pitcher in the purest sense of the word 'pitch.' He makes and mixes his pitches very well. He's not afraid with sometimes a below-average fastball, but it's got some life to it. At times, it comes out as average when he needs a little extra. He's very picky about when he uses that little extra."

The righty has certainly had something extra early this season. In 21 innings, Bannister has allowed just 10 hits and two earned runs.

"I try to get ahead of guys, throw all four pitches for strikes and move it up when I have to," Bannister said.

The 27-year-old also holds himself to a high standard, picking apart an April 8 performance vs. the Yankees in which he lasted five innings.

"I wanted to get out there and redeem myself after the Yankees game, because I was really disappointed how that game went [since] I preach innings and efficiency," he said.

In that game, Bannister had six strikeouts and allowed only two runs on five hits while throwing 98 pitches. His ERA is equally impressive -- it was 1.29 ERA in two starts last week and was lowered to 0.86 following Sunday's win.

"He pitches. He doesn't throw," Detroit's Kenny Rogers said of Bannister, who notched his first win of the season against the Tigers, tossing a three-hit shutout on April 2. "He's out there moving the ball around quite a bit and changing speeds. That's what it takes."

Ibañez also has taken the AL by storm in the season's second week.

Although it may seem like nothing new for the outfielder -- this is his fourth career weekly award -- Ibañez did make history on Sunday. With at least three RBIs in three consecutive games, the outfielder tied a Seattle record. Heading into Monday's action, Ibañez also leads the AL with 10 extra-base hits.

Ibañez has been a bright spot in an otherwise slow-going Seattle offense, hitting .370 last week with four home runs and 11 RBIs. The 35-year-old left fielder posted a 1.000 slugging percentage, with three doubles, a triple and seven runs scored.

"Raul is pretty well locked in," Mariners manger John McLaren said.

Ibanez has been hitting in the cleanup slot since Wednesday, a move that Seattle hopes will generate more offense.

"We had a little staff get-together and we talked about some possible [lineup] changes," McLaren said. "Batting Raul fourth is something we want to look at. We'll try this one for awhile."

It has clearly paid dividends. In a three-game weekend set against the AL West rival Angels, Ibañez went 7-for-13 with three home runs and nine RBIs.

Other nominees included the A's Mark Ellis, the Angels' Casey Kotchman and the Blue Jays' Vernon Wells. In addition to Bannister, pitchers Javier Vazquez of the White Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox were also nominated for the honor.

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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