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Originally published Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 10:58 PM

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Mariners suffer serious letdown in 16-9 loss to Houston

Under most circumstances, having the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history would have been a distressing occurrence for the Mariners. But on Tuesday night...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Wednesday

Astros @ M's, 7:10 p.m.

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Under most circumstances, having the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history would have been a distressing occurrence for the Mariners.

But on Tuesday night, perhaps the organization could view the paltry attendance figure (10,745) as a blessing in disguise. For this was a game best seen by the fewest eyes, a disaster of a night for the Mariners that resulted in a 16-9 victory by the Astros.

Yes, the team widely regarded as the worst in baseball — many believe, in fact, the Astros could challenge the all-time loss record — had their way with the Mariners, who hoped to clean up on their 19 games with Houston.

The Astros pounded out 22 hits in jumping out to a 13-0 lead after four innings, and their 15 runs batted in exceeded by one their total for the first seven games of the season. They came into the game with two homers, and added five — two of them by outfielder Chris Carter.

"These are days you just forget," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.

The rout started early, with rookie Brandon Maurer failing to even make it out of the first inning. Coming off a rough major-league debut in Oakland, Maurer struggled even more in his home unveiling. He gave up seven hits and a walk for six runs before manager Wedge finally pulled him after a two-run double by Jose Altuve.

"He was just missing some spots, and it kind of steamrolled on him a little bit," Wedge said. "He'll learn from it. As tough as it is, it will be something that will be a motivator for him."

In his two starts, Maurer has given up 15 hits and 12 runs in 6-2/3 innings for an earned-run average of 16.20. At one point in the first inning, Maurer got hit hard on his thigh by a line drive from Matt Dominguez. After being checked out by the trainer, he remained in the game.

Asked if Maurer would stay in the rotation, Wedge replied, "We have to make sure he's OK first. He got hit pretty good there on that hip. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. That's the first thing I'm concerned about. I want to make sure he's OK after sleeping on it and coming in tomorrow. You love his arm, you love his stuff. He had a great spring. He deserves to be here."

"I was struggling a little bit, not making pitches when I need to make pitches, and they came out swinging," Maurer said.

Maurer said he talked afterward to veterans Felix Hernandez and Kameron Loe, who gave him encouragement.

"I heard a story about Randy Johnson giving up a few in an inning," he said. "That always makes me feel a little better, I guess. It happens."

Maurer said that because it was his home debut, "I was trying to put an impression on the fans, I guess, tonight. Trying to overthrow, maybe."

The Mariners' next pitcher, Loe, didn't fare much better. In 2-1/3 innings, Loe gave up six hits and five runs. Perhaps most alarming is that Loe gave up three homers, and has now allowed six longballs in 6-2/3 innings.

"That's just uncharacteristic of him," Wedge said. "He's a sinkerball guy. He's here to put the ball on the ground. He's struggled with that a little bit. It looked like he was just a little flat tonight."

This is the same Astros' team, mind you, that came into the game as the worst offensive team in the American League. They had been shut out three times in seven games and had scored just 17 runs.

The Astros, in fact, had just 10 extra-base hits coming in: five doubles, three triples and two homers. In nine innings against the Mariners on Tuesday, they got eight extra-base hits. In addition to Carter, the homers came from Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Marwin Gonzalez — in each case, their first of the season.

Adding to the Mariners' indignity was the fact that Astros starter Erik Bedard, who had been on the wrong end of one of the worst trades in team history, blanked them for four innings. Bedard had a perfect game going with one out in the fourth before Michael Saunders lined a clean single to center, eliciting as loud a mock cheer as 10,745 fans can muster.

Bedard didn't come out for the fifth, erasing his chance for a victory in his first appearance against the Mariners since they traded him to Boston in July 2011.

Jason Bay blasted his first homer as a Mariner in the seventh. And Raul Ibanez added his first homer of his third Mariners' stint in the eighth. That was followed by Michael Morse's sixth homer of the season to left-center — the first one this year that might not have been out last season with the old fences.

The eight combined home runs were tied for the third most in Safeco history.

Empty feeling
Tuesday's game was the lowest attendance ever at Safeco Field.
Crowd Opponent Date
10,745 Houston 4/9/13
11,352 Cleveland 4/18/12
11,701 Baltimore 5/31/11
12,411 Detroit 4/19/11
12,428 Toronto 4/13/11

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