HOUSTON – Eric Wedge sat at his desk quietly waiting for the media. His hat was off and his face was red – but not because of a sunburn.
No, this was a shade of red with a little purple mixed in that came from the frustration of watching the Seattle Mariners lose again.
It was the type of red that comes from voicing displeasure at high decibels.
If that color were manufactured into a crayon, it would be named, “Fed-up And Angry Baseball Manager Red.”
And Wedge had every right to be angry. He had just endured another lackluster loss – this time a 10-3 defeat – to the Houston Astros on Wednesday.
It was an ugly loss in a trip full of them – five in six games. That it came against the Astros, a team that is supposed to be significantly worse than the Mariners, only made it more agitating.
With the loss, Seattle dropped two out of three games to Houston for the second time in two weeks – the Astros’ only series wins this season. Meanwhile, the Mariners have not won a series and also haven’t won back-to-back games since the first two games of the season.
It was all enough to force Wedge to have a closed-door meeting with the players postgame where he was rather vocal.
“I had a few things to relay to them, but I will keep that between us,” he said.
He might have wanted to keep the meeting’s message secret, but people outside of the clubhouse could hear it through the walls.
Did the players understand his message?
“I’m pretty sure they did,” he said.
Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen often used to say: “Good teams win games, bad teams have meetings.”
Right now, the Mariners are not a good team.
The record speaks for itself: Seattle is 8-15, and 2-4 against Houston.
“It’s been a bad road trip, and we aren’t off to the start we’d like, that’s for sure,” Wedge said. “But we have the players in there to be a good team, and that’s what bothers me more than anything.”
The Mariners’ chances to get a victory Wednesday had pretty much evaporated by the fourth inning.
Veteran left-hander Joe Saunders made it through five innings for Seattle, but he couldn’t get an out in the sixth. He gave up eight runs on 11 hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
“Joe struggled,” Wedge said. “He was up a little bit and didn’t quite have the command he normally has.”
Saunders never worked a one-two-three inning, and seven of the 11 hits he gave up went for extra bases.
Chris Carter put Houston on the board in the second inning with a towering solo home run to left field onto the railroad tracks above the stands.
In the fourth inning, Saunders walked Carter and gave up a single to Carlos Corporan with one out. The next batter, one-time Mariners infielder Ronny Cedeño, yanked a Saunders change-up over the wall in left field for a three-run homer to make it 4-0.
But the Astros weren’t done. They tacked on one more run in the fifth and three more runs off Saunders in a five-run sixth inning. The other runs came off reliever Blake Beavan when Brandon Laird crushed a homer.
Saunders didn’t have much analysis of the outing.
“It was just a bad day, that’s all I can really say,” Saunders said.
Was it his command?
“It was just a bad day, turn the page and go get ’em next time,” he said.
Were his pitches up the zone?
“No, it was just a bad day, that’s all I can really say,” Saunders said.
Even had Saunders pitched better, his run support would have been minimal. Seattle managed one run before the ninth inning. Endy Chavez and Kyle Seager singled to start the sixth, but the only run came on Kendrys Morales’ double-play grounder.
The Mariners scored again in the ninth when Justin Smoak led off with a solo homer down the right-field line. It was his first of the season. Dustin Ackley delivered a two-out double to right – his third hit of the game – and scored on Robert Andino’s single.
But that short offensive burst was much too late.
“It was nice to see Smoak get that first homer out of the way,” Wedge said. “It was nice to see Andino get that hit, and Ackley is still swinging the bat well.
So there’s some good things to pull from this.”