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May 1, 2013 at 12:12 AM

Gloomy loss for Maurer, Mariners

Photo by Associated Press

Photo by Associated Press

Eric Wedge choose to accentuate the positives from tonight’s 7-2 loss to the Orioles. Such as Brandon Maurer surviving his early struggles to make it through four innings (as opposed to his first start at Safeco, which Maurer said this reminded him of; on that night, he didn’t make it out of the first inning, giving up six runs to the Astros).

“He can go home tonight feeling like he did do a better job than he did in his start early in the year when he didn’t get through it,” Wedge said. “Those are all steps for a good young starting pitcher.”

But when someone asked Maurer if he felt it was an “accomplishment” to get through four innings, he didn’t really buy into it.

“I wouldn’t say accomplishment. It felt better going out there the next couple (of innings) and getting through it,” he said.

Wedge also talked about how he’s seeing better signs from the Seattle offense, which produced 10 hits — the fifth time in six games they have reached double figures (though Wedge did add that the Mariners didn’t get them at the right time, which has been an ongoing issue).

But for the most part, it was a blah kind of night at Safeco — long (three hours and 35 minutes), sparsely populated (13,629 was the announced attendance, but by game’s end it might have been down to triple figures), cold (my fingers still aren’t operating properly) and, from the Mariners’ perspective, frustrating. They left 10 on base and were 1-for-8 with RISP. So what else is new, right?

Their one shot to get back in the game came in the sixth, when the Orioles were leading 6-0. Michael Morse homered, and the Mariners proceeded to load the bases with no outs. But they got just one run out of that promising situation, coming when Kelly Shoppach grounded into a force at second. That left runners on first and third, one out, and .151-hitting Brendan Ryan coming to the plate.

With right-hander Tommy Hunter on the mound, Wedge’s obvious option was to call upon Raul Ibanez to hit for Ryan, knowing Buck Showalter would counter with one of his four lefties in the pen. He elected to let Ryan hit, saving Ibanez for later. Ryan grounded into a double play. Wedge played the Ibanez card in the eighth with two aboard, hitting him for Ryan. Sure enough, Showalter brought in southpaw Brian Matusz, and Ibanez fouled out. Yes, Wedge could have countered with Jesus Montero, but he’s reluctant to leave himself with no protection at catcher.

“With the game where it was, you’re hoping you have a better situation later and it’s a closer ballgame,’’ Wedge said of his decision to let Ryan hit in the sixth. “If you go there in the sixth inning, it’s a two-player move (requiring Robert Andino to replace Ryan at shortstop), and it’s going to be a left on left situation. Even best case scenario, you’re still going to be down by a couple runs, and then you’re tied up (as far as options) late.

“You’re hoping you get a little closer in the next couple of innings and you can use him in a situation where it’s more meaningful. But either way, Raul is going to face a left-hander.”

What it really points out is that the Mariners’ bench, which appeared to be a strength heading into the season, is not very formidable at the moment, particularly with Ibanez struggling so much.

One final observation: The Mariners are going to have to decide if Blake Beavan is a viable option in their bullpen. He now has a 8.10 earned-run average in five relief appearances after posting an 8.44 ERA in two starts to lose his rotation spot. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he heads to Tacoma to work things out.



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