The worst part of this 5-0 loss on Friday night could have been the Mariners allowing middle-of-the-road starter Aaron Cook to hold them to an infield single over the first seven innings en route to a complete-game two-hit shutout.
The sight of his team getting manhandled by one average pitcher too many finally set Mariners manager Eric Wedge off.
Wedge has been about as patient as humanly possible with an underachieving squad that struggles to score runs at Safeco Field at the best of times. But seeing them get two hits off 33-year-old sinker-ball pitcher Aaron Cook in a 5-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night was about all Wedge could take.
Cook had entered with a 9.39 earned-run average and 14 hits allowed over 7-2/3 innings in his two prior starts this season. After he finished off the Mariners on just 81 pitches for his first major-league win in over a year, Wedge didn’t hold back.
“We were horrible tonight,” Wedge said. “We just stunk up the joint tonight. Nothing more to say.”
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Wedge actually had plenty more to say about the dismal performance, played in front of 23,094 fans at Safeco Field. The game essentially ended in the middle innings when the Red Sox hit four home runs in an eight-batter span off Hector Noesi.
Will Middlebrooks, Cody Ross and Daniel Nava hit solo homers in the fifth inning and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia connected for a two-run shot in the sixth that closed out the night’s scoring.
Meanwhile, Cook kept racking up goose eggs on the scoreboard, yielding just an infield hit to Ichiro in the fourth and then a leadoff single to right by John Jaso in the eighth.
“An 80-pitch complete game? Not taking anything away from that guy, but you can’t make it that easy for him,” Wedge said.
“It was just brutal.”
When a media member asked Wedge whether the Mariners should have been trying to hit some of the sinkers to the opposite field, the manager nodded affirmatively, his eyes bulging wide.
“Yeah, it’s obvious,” he said. “Hell, it’s obvious to you (media) guys, it should be obvious to those guys. It’s a step back today for me offensively and that’s hard as hell to do with the way we’ve been swinging the bats at home.”
The Mariners have scored one run in their past three games and only five in the five games on this homestand. Somehow, the Mariners have still won two of the five games — though they are back to 13 games under .500.
“When you’re throwing strikes early and getting them swinging, it definitely makes a world of difference,” said Cook, who spent 10 seasons in Colorado before joining the Red Sox this year. “They’re not getting quite as comfortable at-bats and I was able to pound the zone early and keep them swinging at the pitches I want them swinging at.”
But despite his success at doing that, the Mariners weren’t ready to give him all the credit. Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, who went 0 for 3 and had his average fall to .176, said he understood his manager’s exasperation.
“I speak for myself, but I can’t imagine the feeling is much different elsewhere,” Ryan said. “I’m getting pretty sick and tired of complimenting the other side. I mean, good outing or not, it’s just getting old.
“It’s disappointing. You like for one good at-bat to lead into the next and not the other way around. It’s just the same outs being made, myself included in there.
“It’s just bad, bad at-bats. I don’t want to take anything away from Cook and be disrespectful in any way, but there have got to be adjustments made and there weren’t. I think that’s what you saw.”
Ryan said it’s not as if his teammates didn’t know what Cook would be throwing.
“Its not like, ‘Hey, I’m working with a sinker today! He’s been that guy his whole career,’ ” Ryan said. “That’s where the game plan starts.”
The latest offensive collapse by the Mariners took some of the focus off the latest mound implosion by Noesi. He looked solid the first four innings, holding the Red Sox to just a single.
Then, he fell apart in rapid fashion.
“I started missing my pitches again,” he said. “The 0-2 and the 1-1, I started putting it in the middle.”
Noesi said it wasn’t a mechanical issue. Just him not executing.
But he wasn’t alone on that count. And Wedge said it’s going to have to stop, or some players aren’t going to be up with the team much longer.
“We’re going to figure this thing out,” Wedge said. “We’re going to hit at home like we hit on the road. We’re not there yet. We’re not even close yet. But it will happen.
“Whether it’s the same guys in the room or not, that’s yet to be determined,” he added. “That’s up to them. But they’re not getting it done now. And I’m tired of all the (expletive) with Safeco and everything.
“They’ve got to take full responsibility. As I do for not getting them to where they need to be here offensively just yet. That’s my job, the coaches’ job. But rest assured, we’ll get them there. It’s up to them whether they want to be a part of it or not.”
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @gbakermariners.