Maurer gets started … and Morse bombs again

Seattle Mariners v Oakland AthleticsYou never know quite what to expect when a 22-year-old makes his first Major League start, particularly one who has never pitched above Double-A ball.

So not surprisingly, the Mariners got a little of everything from Brandon Maurer in Thursday’s 8-2 loss to the A’s.

They got a kid who missed on a couple critical pitches and paid for it with a pair of two-run bombs by two quality Major League hitters in Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes.

They also got a guy who settled in nicely and retired nine in a row from the second through fourth innings and had his team in the game, trailing 3-2, until the wheels started wobbling a bit in a three-run sixth.

Veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach said Maurer was impressive in the way he handled his first start and expects he’ll be just fine going forward.

Maurer acknowledged it wasn’t quite so smooth inside, however.

“I actually felt okay going out there the first inning,” he said. “Then the second inning I was like, ‘Uh oh.’ I got a little nervous. But that’s just something I’ve got to fight through, I guess.”

It’s always wise to remember that it takes time to adjust to a new level of competition, to learn what works and what doesn’t against Major League hitters. For a guy like Maurer, who has four different quality pitches, finding what and when to throw different offerings and when to bury a pitch in the dirt instead of nibbling at the corner is a learning process.

“I’m sure he learned a lot today and he’ll continue to learn,” said managerEric Wedge. “That’s just part of it. But he threw the ball well overall, once he got settled in there. He got into a little groove, then they got to him quick there in the sixth. But I wanted him to finish that inning and walk off the field. Overall, he’ll be able to take a lot from that.

“Just getting that first one under his belt and knowing he’s into his routine and has something to work off now is important. He went through some initial feelings that I’m sure he hasn’t had before. Those are all good things. You get a lot of firsts out of the way when you go out and make that first start.”

The Mariners wound up splitting the series 2-2 and now head to Chicago, where they’re 2-14 over the last three seasons. The White Sox have been trouble for Seattle recently, 24-4 overall since 2010, so this will be an interesting series to see where they’re at early. Here’s the pitching matchups for that one.

One thing that’s pretty clear. Michael Morse is coming out firing. The big man hit his fourth home run in four games, equaling the best start in club history set by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997. You can watch his latest dinger here.

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