This is getting grim. No. Grimmer.
A day off didn’t reset or freshen the Mariners after a rough weekend. Getting Robinson Cano back in the lineup didn’t help either. A homer by Mike Zunino in his first game back from the minors was a mere footnote.
The Mariners absorbed a 10-1 beatdown Tuesday from the Washington Nationals. Much of the game was played in a steady drizzle at Nationals Park while sunshine predominated in the Northwest.
That’s the way things are going for the Mariners these days.
This makes three straight blowout losses by a combined score of 34-3. You read that right. Thirty-freaking-four. To three.
“It’s how we’re losing and not really (being) in the game,” manager Scott Servais said. “That makes it a little bit tough, but we knew we were going to get in this stretch here with the state of our starting pitching in flux.”
Tough, yes. But this?
Right-hander Christian Bergman pitched 7-1/3 dazzling shutout innings against Oakland in his previous start. On Tuesday, he gave up 10 runs and 14 hits, including four home runs, in four innings.
“I was falling behind a little bit,” he said, “and it’s hard to pitch when you’re behind in the count. You try to come back over the plate, and that’s when guys do damage.”
Anthony Rendon hit two home runs and drove in five runs. That’s the same Rendon the Mariners once appeared likely to select n the 2011 MLB Draft before they opted instead for left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen.
Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper also hit home runs — back-to-back boomers in an eight-run fourth inning against Bergman. The Nationals finished with 15 hits.
“It’s one of the best lineups in the league,” Zunino said. “There’s no breaks. I thought (Bergman) made some good pitches, and they still put some good swings on them.”
The Mariners (20-26) are reeling with nine losses in their last 12 games.
It gets worse.
Prior to Tuesday, the Mariners’ skid came against clubs with losing records. Tuesday marked the start of a 10-game stretch against legit postseason contenders: Washington, Boston and Colorado.
The Mariners have four starting pitchers on the disabled list who all could be back within a month or so. At that point, they could have, roughly, the roster they once envisioned.
That seems a long way away.
“We’ve got to get our offense going,” Servais said. “Our starting pitching, obviously, has struggled the last three or four days. But we’ve got to get that offensive going. We haven’t been able to keep the line moving at all.”
Washington grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Rendon’s first homer, which stayed just fair down the left-field line.
Bergman (1-2) then gave up a walk and two singles but avoided further damage when center fielder Jarrod Dyson threw out Matt Wieters at the plate for the inning’s final out.
The Nationals pushed their lead to 10-0 in the fourth inning.
Rendon led off with a double and scored on Wieters’ single. Trea Turner hit a two-out RBI before Werth and Harper launched back-to-back bombs — 421 feet and 450 feet.
The Nationals weren’t done with Bergman.
Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy followed with singles before Rendon hit his second homer of the game. That made eight runs and nine hits, including three homers, in one inning.
“There were a couple of opportunities to get out of there with minimal damage,” Bergman said. “I couldn’t quite get that last guy. Unfortunately, that’s what happens.”
Washington right-hander Joe Ross, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Syracuse, had allowed 13 runs over 15-2/3 innings in three April starts — a 7.47 ERA.
The Mariners barely made him sweat.
Ross (2-0) gave up one run and five hits in eight innings. The run came on Zunino’s leadoff homer in the sixth inning. It was the Mariners’ sole highlight of the game.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Rendon also had the game’s top defensive play when took a single away from Nelson Cruz with a lunging grab on a line drive to third for the first out in the second inning.
PLUS: Shortstop Jean Segura went 2-for-4 for his 10th multi-hit game of the season. … Kyle Seager also had two of the Mariners’ five hits. The other hit was Zunino’s homer. … Dyson recorded his fourth outfield assist. The rest of the Mariners’ outfield has four.
MINUS: Nelson Cruz started in right field — and it cost the Mariners. Cruz failed to run down Turner’s two-out RBI triple, which would have ended the inning with Washington scoring just one run. Instead, the Nationals scored eight. … First baseman Danny Valencia was a late scratch because of a wrist injury. He has missed the last three games. … Cano went hitless in three at-bats after missing the previous 11 games because of a strained right quadriceps muscle. He ran gingerly out of the box on two infield grounders.
STAT PACK: The latest transaction-timer update: The Mariners have made 80 transactions to the 40-man roster since the season opened. That works out, roughly, to one every 15 hours and 18 minutes.
QUOTABLE: Rookie reliever Emilio Pagan pitched four shutout innings after replacing Bergman. It was also a personal boost for Pagan, who allowed five runs over 2-2/3 innings in two previous big-league appearances
“The main thing was to save the guys for (Wednesday),” he said. That’s the biggest thing. The more bullets you save tonight, the more you have for (Wednesday).”
The flip side is pitching four innings effectively makes Pagan unavailable for the next few days. The reward for his good outing could be a trip back to the minors if the Mariners decide they want a fresh arm.
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners are winless in seven games in Washington: 0-3 at old RFK Stadium and now 0-4 at Nationals Park. … The Mariners have lost four in a row and matched a season low, at 20-26, by falling six games under .500. … Ross has received 62 runs in his four starts, which is a major-league record for a pitcher in his first four starts.
ON DECK: The Mariners and Nationals continue their three-game series at 4:05 p.m. PDT Wednesday at Nationals Park. Right-hander Sam Gaviglio (0-0 with a 1.29 ERA) will oppose Washington right-hander Tanner Roark (3-2, 4.73).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710-AM and the Mariners Radio Network.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners