There was no carry-over effect Friday for the Mariners from Thursday’s skid-breaking victory at Washington. In fact, their scoring blues returned and deepened in a 3-0 loss at Boston.
What’s going on?
"I wish I knew," second baseman Robinson Cano said, "but if we want to win games, we have to get better."
The Mariners scored exactly one run in each of their five games prior to Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Nationals. They lost all five games. On Friday, they not only didn’t score; they didn’t offer much of a threat to do so.
"We have some guys who, on paper, have a good track record," manager Scott Servais said. "Then we have some younger guys who are trying to establish themselves in the league.
"The consistency of keeping an inning going, keeping the line going…just hasn’t happened. Guys are frustrated by it. We all are. We know we’re better than that offensively. It’s not happening right now."
It hasn’t happened in a while.
The Mariners have lost 11 of their last 15 in falling to 21-28. They’ve scored just 36 runs in those 15 games, including two or fewer in 10 of them. Before that stretch, they ranked second among American League clubs in runs per games.
What comes next is hard to say. There’s already been a players-only meeting. Servais has, in his controlled manner, gone public in criticizing what he saw as too many poor at-bats. Shaking up the lineup isn’t really an option.
"The core of our lineup is what it is," Servais said. "That’s how we’re built with Robby and Nellie (Cruz in the middle) and (Jean) Segura on top. But it’s cumulative. It needs everybody contributing.
"You have to find a way to get the big hit. We just haven’t done that."
Three takeaways from Friday’s loss:
***Looking for a pulse: This should be a productive lineup — and it was, generally, for about a month after opening the season with a shaky first week. The form sheet says the Mariners will pull out of their slide.
The question is when?
The Mariners are teetering right now. They hope to have their projected rotation back in place, or at least most of it, by mid-June. That might be too late if they fall 10 or more games below .500 before then.
***Gallardo scrambles through: Yovani Gallardo wasn’t great Friday but, like Ariel Miranda on Thursday, he kept the game competitive into the sixth inning. Those are games the Mariners need to win right now.
A rotation packed with replacement parts is going to be spotty. There are going to be bad days and some really bad days — as happened in a recent four-game span when starting pitchers allowed 32 runs in 16 2/3 innings.
The Mariners need their lineup to carry them for at least a few more weeks.
***Costly mistakes: It’s often the sign of a club that’s pressing when mistakes multiply. There were at least five in Friday’s loss.
Center fielder Guillermo Heredia and right fielder Ben Gamel each committed errors by fumbling balls on the pick-up. Both resulted in an extra base.
Catcher Mike Zunino inexplicably whiffed on a pitch for a passed ball with the bases loaded. Gallardo pulled hard on a curve with the bases loaded in a quest for something extra, and the result was a wild pitch. Two soft runs.
Danny Valencia tried to stretch a single into a double against an outfielder with a strong arm, Jackie Bradley Jr., and the result was an out at second base that deflated the Mariners’ best scoring opportunity.
Individually, it might be argued that none of those mistakes were pivotal. Collectively, in a close game, they certainly were.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners