Raul Ibanez and a group of veteran players didn’t like what they saw in the Mariners’ 13-2 loss Tuesday to the lowly Houston Astros, so they called a players-only meeting after the game to talk about it.
The meeting lasted about 20 minutes, and while the Mariners kept what was said in the meeting sealed, the general tone was easily understandable: This can’t happen again, and Ibanez laid out how that needs to happen.
“It’s about the internal fight that’s within all of us and leaving it all out on the field every day,” Ibanez said.
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The loss dropped the Mariners’ record to 10-8 against Houston this season. Above .500, sure, but the Mariners have also accounted for 16 percent of the Astros’ 49 wins this season.
This most recent loss wasn’t easy on the eyes.
Joe Saunders started again for the Mariners, but he didn’t last long. He gave up a home run to Jonathan Villar on the first pitch of the game, the first of Villar’s young career. He gave up two hits in the second inning, then four more in the third, including three doubles. He left with plenty of shrapnel: seven hits and six runs in just three innings.
It sent his ERA soaring above 5.00.
In the second, centerfielder Abraham Almonte allowed a base runner to advance with a throwing error. In the third, Houston DH Chris Carter doubled when his softly hit grounder bounced over the glove of first baseman Justin Smoak on a play that could have been scored an error. In the eighth, reliever Lucas Luetge walked in a run.
And that’s not factoring what the Astros did on the base paths. Houston stole five bases, including third three times and two instances where a runner stole second and third. Rookie Mike Zunino was behind the plate for Seattle, but manager Eric Wedge said much of the responsibility fell on shortstop Brad Miller and second baseman Nick Franklin to do a better job at keeping runners close.
“The kids up the middle learned a great deal tonight,” Wedge said. “They learned a hard lesson, and I know we spent a lot of time talking to them about it.”
Offensively, the story didn’t get much better. Franklin Gutierrez had two RBIs – one with a single in the second that cut Houston’s lead to 2-1 and one with a single in the sixth that made it 6-2 – but Seattle managed just five hits.
The Mariners are just 3-7 in their last 10 games and will try to avoid a sweep against the Astros on Wednesday. Houston has swept only two series all season while being swept 13 times.
“That was just a bad day,” Wedge said.