BY SPNW Staff 02:15PM 04/24/2013

Astros Put An Ugly (10-3) Cap On Mariners’ Trip

Maybe it’s time to stop referring to the Houston Astros as the worst team in the majors and point the finger instead at the team they out-scored 38-27 and out-hit 73-51 over six games this season. The Mariners ended a gruesome 1-5 road trip through Texas and Houston Wednesday with a 10-3 loss at Minute Maid Park and are now just percentage points out of last place in the AL West.

Seattle has given Houston (7-15) four of its wins. The Astros hit three home runs off Joe Saunders, who was awful, and Blake Beavan, and blew the game open with a five-run sixth inning. The Astros ultimately cruised to a 10-1 lead before the Mariners tallied two runs in the ninth.

Seattle (8-15) has lost two in a row and seven of nine. Even if the Mariners win their six remaining games in April, they will finish the month with a losing record.

After the game,  manager Eric Wedge held a team meeting behind closed doors but wouldn’t tell reporters what was said.

“It’s been a bad road trip, and we are not off to the start we’d like, for sure,” Wedge said. “But we have the players in there to be a good team, and that is what bothers me more than anything. We just have to peck away and get this thing turned around.”

Chris Carter homered off Saunders on a full count in the second inning, former Mariner Ronny Cedeno (2009) blasted a three-run shot off Saunders in the fourth, and Brandon Laird delivered a run-scoring double in the fifth, giving the Astros a 5-0 lead.

The Mariners got a run back in the sixth when Endy Chavez and Kyle Seager reached on singles. Kendrys Morales then hit into a double play, but Chavez scored, making it 5-1. With his single, Seager extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games.

Saunders couldn’t make it through the sixth. He opened by hitting catcher Carlos Corporan with a pitch, gave up a double to Cedeno and a single to Matt Dominguez that scored two.

Trailing 7-1, manager Eric Wedge had seen enough and yanked Saunders, who departed having allowed five earned runs on 11 hits. Saunders’ ERA jumped to 5.33.

Beavan immediately gave up a single to Brandon Barnes and then Laird bashed a three-run homer to make it 10-1.

The Mariners had an opportunity to pick up a couple of runs in the eighth when they placed runners at second and third with two outs. But Michael Morse struck out.

Seattle’s two meaningless runs in the ninth came on Justin Smoak’s first home run of the season, and on an RBI single by Robert Andino, the club’s new starting shortstop, which plated Dustin Ackley, who had a 3-for-4 day, lifting his average to .230.

The tattered Mariners return to Safeco Field Thursday night for the first of four against the Los Angeles Angels. Brandon Maurer (1-3, 7.45), who has a 2.84 ERA in his last two starts, will oppose RHP Garrett Richards (1-0, 2.55), who is filling in for the injured Jered Weaver.

Following the Angels, the Mariners will host the Baltimore Orioles in a three-game set.

NOTES: Eric Wedge made a lineup change Wednesday, replacing Brendan Ryan as the club’s starting shortstop with Robert Andino. Although Ryan has played well enough defensively, he has just one hit in his last 25 at-bats, his average falling to .143 . . . The Mariners said Wednesday that OF Michael Saunders will likely go out on a minor league rehab stint with AAA Tacoma next weekend. Saunders, who sprained his right shoulder April 11, is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday.


  • Matt712

    R.I.P. 2013 season.
    Est. time of death: between 11:10 AM and 1:00 PM PDT, April 24, 2013

  • Michael Kaiser

    It is contagious I tell you. Sad.

  • WestCoastBias79

    It’s not even May, and I think I’m done. When does football season start?

    • Michael Kaiser

      Tomorrow! with the draft, arguably my favorite football event of the year.

  • Trygvesture

    Ichiro drove in the winning run for the Yanks.

    The land of Lincoln (H) is now the landmark of loserville.

    He’s run the Mariners aground, broken the hull, lost all valuable cargo, and blames the press for his deceit and thoroughgoing ineptness in honoring and enhancing the Game with which the franchise has been entrusted.

    Surely the style of this stale ownership sustains the current culture of loserville– it’s insidious and surgery is in order. The organization needs a head transplant.

    • art thiel

      Ichiro is hitting .200 in NY. In Seattle, he would be king again.

      • Effzee

        Please don’t say that. I am sure the Yanks will be dying to give him away soon, and I don’t want Howie to accidentally read this, totally miss the sarcasm, and go, “You know, Art is right. Let’s bring back Ichiro,” in their endless, pointless, hopeless quest to fill seats in lieu of improving the quality of the product on the field. Is there *anything* that will make the clowns at the top recognize the correlation between winning and attendance figures? Anything at all?

        • art thiel

          Congrats on being the first to ever quote Howard saying “Art is right.”

          But seriously, the guys at the top fully realize why the attendance has gone from 3.5M to 1.6M. And they are trying — no one would subject themselves to this kind of abuse for giggles.

          They just aren’t good at executive baseball decisions.

          • Trygvesture

            “just aren’t good at…” ?

            And the Titanic just wasn’t good at being unsinkable; the Hindenburg wasn’t all that good at being fireproof; the Times isn’t that good at being pro-union…

            Never thought I’d hear an understatement of the like from Art.

        • Trygvesture

          No. Nope. None. It’ simple, I think. Armstrong is a thoroughgoing incompetent ( wanted to re-sign, Ichi, Griff, etc etc even AFTER the players were ready to go, Never made a good decision; never, maybe, made a decision about actually playing baseball, but likely is Mr yessir/yessir/three bags full to Lincoln). Lincoln is by all reports an old school, my way or the highway, all-about-hierarchy corporate guy with a 50’s management mentality. No clue about baseball. No experience. Clearly has no love of the game or respect for the Game and what it stands for, the history and its meaning. ( see: Scoreboard/bobblehead emphasis.) Was likely continually flummoxed by Niehaus’ emotional reminiscing at the end of the season each year. So, of COURSE they don’t recognize anything about running a successful, pennant-driven/ring-driven franchise and how it matters to fans. Remember, Howard–what a clown– ran Lou out of town by dressing him down for “insubordination”! That word only exists in military dictionaries and Japanese corporate hierarchies. Lou told H the Clown what the team needed to win. H the Clown couldn’t imagine, nor tolerate, being told by a “subordinate” what he needed to do to win. We lost Lou, lost the pennant, lost the franchise and ended up with the Clownship of baseball. No other person in baseball would have responded that way.

          If you’re not qualified for your job, you perform demonstrably worse every year, you’re embittered by the authentic and accurate responses to your ineptness, you are inflexibly hard-wired to work in a culture long-gone by the wayside of history, you haven’t the sensibilities of your successful peers and you are a one-trick pony who hasn’t the youthful wherewithal to embrace new ways of knowing— shouldn’t you just have the guts to leave if nobody has the guts to fire your ass?

  • jafabian

    Some good came from this series. Montero, Smoak and Ackley improved their hitting. Chavez is proving to be more than a capable stand in for Gutierrez and might be the better leadoff hitter. Smoak is tied for second in walks on the club. The problem is they despite their positive signs they still lost the series to arguably the worst team in the majors. I don’t always see an effort to move the runner over. In today’s game the M’s left 13 on base and the Astros 12 yet the Astros scored 10 runs to Seattle’s 3. The math doesn’t add up here.

    It would be easy to point the finger at Jack Z. He’s rebuilt the farm system but not much else. His veteran acquisitions didn’t work out (Figgins, Kotchman) and the one that did (Cliff Lee) he traded for players that haven’t panned out. (Smoak, Beavan) Can’t blame him for acquiring Beavan, Montero, Ackley and Smoak but they aren’t producing and have had more than enough opportunity to show something. Also would be easy to blame Wedge since he works closest with them. Obviously the younger players on the club aren’t hearing the message. However the M’s have changed GM’s going from Gillick to Bavasi to Jack Z. and have been criticized for having a short leash on Bob Melvin and Don Wakamatsu as manager. Only management has been the one constant in the past 10 years.

    This club wasn’t going to make the playoffs this year so whether they lose 70, 80 or 90 games isn’t much of an issue but as a Mariner fan would like to at least see a competitive team. I don’t want to see Felix become the new Ichiro and be on the club for 10 years without seeing the playoffs and only a couple barely over .500 teams.

    • art thiel

      When a team dies so early, it’s even easier for what’s left of the fan base to check out. But I have seen teams come from farther back in April to be competitive. Just not in Seattle.

      • jafabian

        The players don’t seem very competitive at the moment and the new vets seem to be still feeling their way on this team. Mike Sweeney would have had a closed door meeting and getting in players faces by now. Agree that April is too early to close the book but this last series was UGLY. I can give Wedge and Jack Z. a pass on this year since they’re following Oakland’s formula and it took them nearly five years to get where they are now but they should know they’re on the hot seat. Also think then need to resist the urge to call up Zunino. The M’s should have waited until ’96 to call up ARod and as such his free agent year matched Junior’s. Picture if Alex was on the 2001 team.

        • Effzee

          Your optimism is truly baffling. Is this the same pass they’ve been given for the past decade? Are you giving them the same 5 years that it took Oakland, with this being year one? Is that the same Mike Sweeney whose closed door meetings helped us finish 3rd and 4th in the division while he was here? Four playoff appearances in 37 years. FOUR. There is no reasonable excuse for having *any* optimism whatsoever, sir. Nothing personal, man. Also, the curse is Chuck and Howie. There is no mystery here. Nothing is ever going to get better until they are gone. I just feel bad seeing you carry on with all this false hope, brother. Don’t be afraid to join us here in reality! Have a beautiful day! :D

  • bugzapper


    And that starts with the Twin Bobbleheads at the top of this rancid food chain.

  • Michael Kaiser

    And in more proud Mariners’ lore, the Angels announcers tonight are talking about the 15 years-past Heathcliff Slocum trade, with Seattle being the butt of the point. Of course.

  • dinglenuts

    This is a bad, bad baseball team. Dustin Ackley, unfortunately, is a .240 hitter. I think we have a reasonable sample size at this point. It’s just who he is, and I doubt that will change much. You can say the same for Smoak, I think.

    As much as I like Raul Ibanez, he’s 40. And playing the outfield, where younger, faster guys are supposed to roam.

    More importantly, the starting pitching is a mess. What used to be a strength on this team is now a serious liability. Once you get past Hernandez and Iwakuma, it’s batting practice.

    The Ms will lose 98 games this year, and might even beat out Houston for the cellar. I don’t think Wedge will keep his job, and might even be gone by the All-Star break if May and June look like April.