ANAHEIM, Calif. — An empty main clubhouse area greeted those looking to ask the Mariners about their sixth straight loss to end this once-promising road trip.
Instead, the players were gathered in a private backroom in a meeting called by veterans to address some of their lack of intensity the final two games here. The Mariners were blown out again, 7-1 on Wednesday, by the Los Angeles Angels and realize they are in danger of squandering all they’d spent the past month working toward.
When the meeting finally ended, a handful of players said it’s imperative the team remembers how well it played to begin this trip and not throw it all away.
“This is a whole different brand of baseball,” Brendan Ryan said afterward. “This isn’t the brand of baseball we wanted to come in here and play. The losses in Cleveland were tough, but the hunger and drive was there.
“This isn’t good,” he added. “We got behind and I don’t know, that determination — that if they score 15, we score 16 — didn’t seem to be there. I don’t know if we were feeling bad for ourselves, or what. But it’s a good time for an off-day.”
The Mariners have that on Thursday, and the front office will have to assess what moves, if any, it can make to help the ballclub out of this slide. Some type of pitching addition appears needed after the Mariners were blown out early for the second straight day, with rookie Brandon Maurer torched for five first-inning runs while making his return to his childhood home in front of 33,313 at Angel Stadium.
Maurer wasn’t helped by the Mariners booting the ball around in the first inning, a disturbing trait that cropped up on a daily basis the final five or six games of the trip. But Maurer also allowed 11 hits, two walks and two wild pitches in only three innings of work and gave up a two-out double by Alberto Callaspo and ensuing Hank Conger single in the first that did most of the Angels’ scoring damage.
Things could have gone even worse for Maurer in the second inning when, with a run already in and down 6-0, he notched a bases-loaded double-play groundout off the bat of Howie Kendrick.
“(Pitching coach) Carl (Willis) came out to the mound … with the bases loaded and said, ‘This is how you become a man,’ ” Maurer said. “So, I go in there and throw a two-seamer and get a double play. I guess that was a positive I could take out of it.”
There wasn’t much else.
And as good as the learning experience has been for Maurer, it hurts the team as a whole when a starter can’t make it through more than a few innings. Aaron Harang lasted only four frames the prior night and the Mariners wound up outscored 19-1 in the two games. The woes of having too many fifth-starter types caught up to them.
The Mariners have limited options for replacing either Harang or Maurer. Hector Noesi got hit hard in Class AAA the other night, minor-leaguers Danny Hultzen and Erasmo Ramirez are hurt, while Andrew Carraway is not on the 40-man roster.
The team has to make a call on adding Jeremy Bonderman to the roster by June 1 or he can become a free agent. That could present a possible upgrade at one rotation spot, though that hope is tempered by the fact Bonderman hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2010.
As for the offense, the Mariners were nearly blanked for the third time in four days before Ryan walked in the eighth, stole second, took third on an errant throw and scored on a Michael Saunders groundout. But the Mariners went down just a little too meekly.
“I think for two and a half, or three weeks, we’ve been playing good ball,” Ryan said. “We look around the league and we feel we can compete with any team. These last two games, we weren’t competing with anybody.”
Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez said it was “a good time” to call the meeting.
It’s now up to manager Eric Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik to decide what help — if any — they’ll offer the team in terms of moves.