By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
HOUSTON — Eric Wedge sat at his desk quietly waiting for the media. His hat was off and his face was red. But this wasn’t a sunburn. No, this was a shade of red with a little purple mixed in that stemmed from the frustration of watching his team lose yet again.
It was the type of red that comes from voicing your displeasure with your team at high decibels. If that color were manufactured into a Crayola crayon, it would be labeled “fed-up and angry baseball manager red.”
To be fair, Wedge had every right to be angry. He had just sat through yet another lackluster loss — this time a 10-3 defeat — to the lowly Houston Astros.
It was an ugly defeat in a road trip full of them — five in six games. That it came against the Astros, a team that is supposed to be significantly worse than Seattle, only made it more agitating.
With the loss, Seattle dropped two of three games to the Astros for the second time this season. They represent both of Houston’s series wins this season. Meanwhile, the Mariners have yet to win a series in that time frame. They also haven’t won back-to-back games since the first two games of the season.
“To get beat like that, when you have a chance to win a series, is something we have to do better with,” Wedge said.
It was all enough to force Wedge to have a closed-door, postgame meeting with the players in which he was rather, um, vocal.
“I had a few things to relay to them, but I will keep that between us,” he said.
He may want to keep the meeting’s message secret to the media, but people just outside the clubhouse could hear it through the walls. Did the players understand his message?
“I’m pretty sure they did,” Wedge said.
Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen used to say: “Good teams win games, bad teams have meetings.”
Right now, the Mariners are not a good team. They are 8-14 on the season 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 win Wednesday had pretty much evaporated by the fourth inning.
Starter Joe Saunders was less than good in his latest start. The veteran left-hander made it just five innings, giving 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 1-2-3 inning. 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 one-out single to Carlos Corporan. The next batter, one-time Mariner Ronny Cedeno, 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 three more runs off Saunders in a five-run sixth inning. The other two Houston runs came off reliever Blake Beavan, when Brandon Laird crushed a two-run homer to left.
Saunders didn’t have much analysis of the outing postgame.
“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 if it wasn’t “just a bad day” for Saunders and he had pitched better, the run support given to him would have been minimal. Seattle managed just one run before the ninth inning. A pair of singles by Endy Chavez and Kyle Seager started off the sixth inning, but the only run that came across was on Kendrys Morales double play.
The Mariners scored again in the ninth when Justin Smoak led off the inning 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 hard single up the middle.
But that short offensive burst was much too late.
“It was nice to see Smoak get that first homer out of the way, it was nice to see Andino get that hit and Ackley is still swinging the bat well,” Wedge said. “So there’s some good things to pull from this.”