ANAHEIM, CALIF. — If the Seattle Mariners were happy to be leaving Cleveland after losing four consecutive games – three in walk-off fashion – then they should feel ecstatic leaving Anaheim.
It was only a two-game series against the American League West-rival Los Angeles Angels, but it felt so much longer.
For the second consecutive day, the Mariners were done in shortly after the game started, getting another short and underwhelming starting pitching performance and doing little after that in a 7-1 loss at Angels Stadium on Wednesday.
It was the Mariners’ sixth-consecutive loss. And all the good feelings from the series win against the Yankees to start the road trip, and the perceived optimism from playing the Indians tough despite being swept in four games, have disappeared quicker than the sunshine in around Puget Sound.
The simmering panic and irritation amongst the Mariners’ fan base has exploded into full-on
rage and bitterness in the span of seven days, thanks to the two beatdowns the Mariners received from the Angels.
If it wasn’t for Michael Saunders driving in Brendan Ryan from third on a ground ball to first base and snapping a 16-inning scoreless streak, the Mariners would have been shut out in the series.
Seattle was outscored in two games, 19-1, and no facet of the game – pitching, hitting or fielding – was competent.
It was so bad the veterans called a players-only meeting after the game.
“We just felt that it was a good time for it, that it was a necessary thing to do,” outfielder Raul Ibañez said.
What was said in the meeting wasn’t shared with the media.
“This is a whole different brand of baseball,” shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “This is not the baseball we wanted to come in here and play. The losses in Cleveland were tough but the hunger and drive were there. This was not good.
“We look around the league and we feel we can compete with any team. These last two games, we aren’t going to compete with anybody.”
Even in the losses in Cleveland, the Mariners were competitive. They were not against the Angels.
“That determination of, ‘If they score 15, then we score 16,’ it didn’t seem to be there,” Ryan said. “I don’t know if we were feeling sorry for ourselves or what.”
So the meeting, hopefully, was a step toward putting a stop to it.
“We are going to play the brand of baseball we want to play from Friday on out,” Ryan said. “This was a little discouraging.”
It’s more than a little discouraging to get the type of starting pitching performances the Mariners got in Anaheim.
A day after Aaron Harang lasted 3† innings and gave up seven runs, rookie right-hander Brandon Maurer pitched three innings, giving up seven runs on 11 hits while walking two and striking out two.
Maurer, who grew up in nearby Costa Mesa, had plenty of friends and family in attendance. He struggled to get out of the first inning, giving up five runs on five hits after all nine Angels hitters came to the plate.
“It was a tough day for Maurer,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He just wasn’t able to keep the ball down consistently. He made a lot of mistakes in the middle and up in the zone. He competed and battled. He’s a tough kid. There were some plays early in the game that would have helped him.”
In the first inning, the Mariners could have limited the damage if center fielder Saunders or second baseman Dustin Ackley had been able to prevent a bloop single from Albert Pujols that landed between them. Ryan couldn’t come up with a tough play in the hole on a Mark Trumbo grounder that could have gotten a force play at third and Ackley bobbled a potential double- play ball, getting only one out.
Those helped snowball the situation.
“I’d say (those miscues hurt) a little bit, but they still hit my mistakes and took advantage of it,” Maurer said.
Maurer limited the damage to a run in the second inning, getting out of a bases-loaded jam by inducing Howie Kendrick to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Pitching coach Carl Willis met with Maurer on the mound before Kendrick’s at-bat.
“He said, ‘This is how you become a man,’ ” Maurer said. “I threw a two-seamer and got a double play. I guess that’s a positive I can take out of it.
Maurer made it one more inning, giving up in another run. Despite seeming to right himself, he threw 74 pitches in the three innings, many of them seemingly with runners on base.
“I didn’t want to push him any further than that,” Wedge said.
Maurer said he didn’t have any physical issues with his performance.
“To be honest, I felt pretty good, they just hit the ball,” Mirier said. “Their line-up is stacked from top to bottom. Today was one of the best I’ve felt all year. It just wasn’t my day.”
It just wasn’t the Mariners’ series.