By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Brandon Maurer’s latest rough outing may well have been his last at the Major League level for a little while.
Searching for his first victory in over a month, Maurer got off to a promising enough start Tuesday night. Eventually, however, the Padres did what most teams have done against the Mariners rookie right-hander: pile up hits and runs.
Now, following a 6-1 loss to the Padres, a demotion to the minor league seems likely for Maurer. Manager Eric Wedge couldn’t say as much immediately after the game, but he did acknowledge that, “We’ll continue talking about it. When we feel like it gets to the point where we have to do something, then we’ll do something. We’ll sit down and talk about today, then we’ll go from there.”
Shortly thereafter, Wedge was in his office for a meeting with general manager Jack Zduriencik and pitching coach Carl Willis (though it is worth noting that postgame meetings with Zduriencik are hardly unusual).
Maurer, who got off to a solid start by shutting out San Diego through three innings, was eventually chased from the game in the sixth having given up nine hits and six runs, five of them earned, in 52⁄3 innings.
Since earning his last win with 61⁄3 shutout innings on April 25, Maurer is 0-3 in five starts and has allowed at least three earned runs in each outing. Maurer gave up 11 hits and seven runs while lasting just three innings in his previous start.
“I don’t think he’s that far,” Wedge said. “It’s just a matter of, what’s the best path for him to get to that consistently. … We’ll sit down and talk about it, you weigh out everything and evaluate what he’s been doing in the time he’s been here and go from there.”
Maurer at times showed the type of stuff that led to him making the jump from Class AA to the Mariners starting rotation, but at other times he was leaving pitches in the middle of the plate, leading to a pair of home runs, nine hits and a few other hard-hit outs.
“I started falling into patterns, throwing the same pitches in the same counts,” Maurer said. “They were sitting on ’em.”
The Mariners did get out to an early lead when Michael Morse scored on a second-inning Jesus Sucre sacrifice fly, but that was all the damage they would inflict on Padres starter Edinson Volquez.
After three strong innings from by Maurer, the Padres took the lead in the fourth on a Jedd Gyorko two-run homer, then added another run in the fifth on a solo shot by Alexi Amarista. Maurer gave up two more runs in the sixth on a hard-hit single by Mark Kotsay, then was pulled after Endy Chavez robbed Will Venable of extra bases to minimize the damage.
And even if Maurer had been better, it wouldn’t have mattered with the way the Mariners were struggling against Volquez. Volquez, who came into the game with a 5.76 ERA and had allowed five runs in each of his previous two starts, stymied the Mariners for 72⁄3, allowing just four hits, one of them an infield single.
And if losing the game wasn’t bad enough, the Mariners also lost Morse in the fourth inning to a quad strain when the outfielder came up limping after trying unsuccessfully to score from first on a Michael Saunders double.
Morse said he felt his leg tighten up as he rounded third and said, “It’s not bad. Maybe a day or two, I’ll be back.”
Wedge said that Morse would likely not fly to San Diego with the team Tuesday night so he could be further evaluated in the morning.
“We don’t think it’s anything too serious, but he’s going to miss a couple of days probably,” Wedge said.
And when you add it all up — another rough outing for Maurer, an injury to Morse added to the oblique injury slowing Justin Smoak — the Mariners will have plenty of decisions to make in the next couple of days.
“It’s fair to say we’ve got a lot to talk about here after I get done talking to you guys,” Wedge said.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.