ANAHEIM, Calif. — There was some understandable anger inside the visiting clubhouse once this debacle for the Mariners was finally over.
Whether it was over getting shut out for the second time in three days, beaten a fifth game in a row, or being deprived of major-league caliber pitching, the angriest players chose to stew privately rather than speak in public. Raul Ibanez was one of those who ventured out after this 12-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night and insisted the Mariners can't lose sight of all that had gone well for the team through the Cleveland series.
“Games, they're all important,” he said. “Obviously, you never want to lose five in a row. But I think it's very important for us as a team to realize that we ran into a very hot team in Cleveland. And to be honest, at that point I felt that we were a very hot team. Obviously, they beat us and came out on top. But I think it's very important to realize how close we are to some very important things happening this season for us.”
But that Cleveland series bore little resemblance to what happened here in front of 34,095 fans at Angel Stadium. Mariners starting pitcher Aaron Harang got destroyed by the fourth inning and helped launch Angels star Mike Trout on his way to becoming the youngest player to hit for the cycle since Cesar Cedeno of the Astros in 1972.
Trout notched an infield single and then a triple off Harang that knocked him from the game in the fourth inning with Seattle trailing 7-0. It was 11-0 in the eighth inning when Trout — who had doubled in the sixth — cranked a Lucas Luetge pitch over the wall in right center to become the sixth player to hit for the cycle against the Mariners.
Harang had given up a home run to Howie Kendrick as well as two triples and two doubles in a four-run fourth inning alone and gave his team almost no shot of beating Angels starter Jerome Williams.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge yanked Harang with two out in the fourth and forced Danny Farquhar and Luetge into extended bullpen work the rest of the way just to save other relievers. Wedge said he and general manager Jack Zduriencik will have to discuss the rotation during Thursday's off day and decide how to prevent this from continuing to happen.
“You can't keep putting this kind of heat on the bullpen,” Wedge said. “You want to give everybody ample opportunity, but having said that, you can't keep doing what we're doing and expect to compete.”
The Mariners face the risk of one of those season-threatening, extended losing streaks with another game here Wednesday and then a weekend series against the first-place Rangers.
The front office could promote Hector Noesi, who replaced Harang last weekend in New York when back stiffness caused him to be scratched from his scheduled start against the Yankees.
The team could also call up Jeremy Bonderman from Class AAA, where he has an opt-out clause enabling him to become a free agent if not added to the major-league roster by June 1.
Harang admitted he had trouble commanding his pitches. He said he still feels he has more to offer than what he's shown the Mariners.
“I think it's just a matter of getting the repetition,” he said. “I had the stints off, and as a pitcher you have to stay sharp, to keep throwing. Obviously, that hinders you. So, I think it's just a matter of being out there and throwing my pitches and getting my feel back.”
He added: “It's tough to get into game speed when you just keep throwing bullpens. So, I've got to keep grinding and I know I can get back to where I need to be. It's just a matter of getting the repetition in there and getting that muscle memory back.”
But it remains to be seen whether the Mariners will give Harang another chance.
Even Ibanez seemed to concede that moral victories like the ones in Cleveland only go so far once a losing streak begins to consume a team. That's why, he added, it's so important the Mariners not fall apart at this stage.
“I think they get it,” Ibanez said. “But at the same time, yeah, it's important for us to talk to each other and remember that excellence is right around the corner. A lot of great things happened on that road trip.
“Again, I'm not saying that losing five in a row is good. I'm not saying that getting swept in Cleveland is good. But I am saying that the fight and the drive and the will is there on this ballclub, and that's going to carry us through the tougher times.”