The difference Wednesday for the Mariners came after they repeated their now-familiar losing script of falling behind big in the early innings before rolling over with little in the way of a counterpunch.
There was no cheerful chin-up, get-them-tomorrow response among the Mariners after their losing streak reached five games with a 5-1 loss to Washington at Nationals Park.
Third baseman Kyle Seager stood in a near-empty clubhouse and declared the Mariners need to stop "sulking" in the face of adversity. A clearly irritated manager Scott Servais cited a need "to pick up our intensity."
The Mariners sounded like a club that’s fed up with itself.
"We don’t like to lose," Seager said, "and we certainly don’t like to lose in the fashion we’ve been losing. It’s nothing crazy. We just need to play better."
While the Mariners scored a run in the first inning Wednesday for their first lead since last Friday, Washington quickly countered with four runs later in the inning.
Anthony Rendon capped the outburst with a three-run homer against rookie Sam Gaviglio. All four runs were unearned because of a throwing error earlier in the inning by shortstop Jean Segura.
That was pretty much it. The Mariners didn’t score again against Tanner Roark and the Nationals’ bullpen.
The Mariners have lost 10 of their last 13 in falling to a season-worst seven games under .500 at 20-27. Their once-potent attack has scored just five runs in the last five games.
There’s a lot to be fed up with.
Three takeaways from Wednesday’s loss:
***Flat-lining attack: While the Mariners’ patchwork rotation is throwing oil in all directions, their punchless lineup might be a greater concern. They ranked second among American League clubs in runs per game prior to their 3-10 skid.
Now, there almost no juice. The Mariners scored just 34 runs in their last 13 games — and just one run in each of their last five games. This is more than just running into a few hot pitchers or having a few bad games.
"You’ve got to compete your tail off every pitch," Servais said. "Every at-bat. You keep doing that and playing the game the right way over and over again, things turn. That’s the only way they turn."
***Cano perks up: The start of the lineup’s plunging production coincided with Robinson Cano’s 11-game absence because of a strained right quadriceps muscle.
Cano went hitless Tuesday in his return from the disabled list, but he was 3-for-4 in Wednesday’s loss. It will take more than a productive Cano to revitalize the Mariners’ attack, but that’s a good place to start.
***Some zeroes, please: The rotation is a shambles and is likely to be that way for a while. James Paxton could rejoin the unit next week, but it could be mid-June or later before Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyly return.
The goal for all starting pitchers until then is five competitive innings. Not five scoreless innings. Just five non-nuclear innings. To the sabermetrically-inclined: five replacement-level innings.
The Mariners are carrying an eight-man bullpen in order to have enough arms to cover the final 12 outs. They are shuttling relievers to-and-from Triple-A Tacoma in an effort to have a full complement of fresh arms.
But they can’t get to their bullpen with the game still in reach. In each of their last four games, the Mariners trailed by at least four runs after four innings.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners