The Mariners were routed for a third straight game, and lost for the fourth straight time, on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Coming into the game, a lopsided outcome was somewhat predictable. Given the Washington Nationals’ potent offense and the current state of the Mariners’ starting pitching, which borders somewhere between not good and Class AAA, allowing a mass of runs seemed to be more than just a possibility.
And yet when it happens in such a decisive and overwhelming fashion, it’s still a little stunning.
The Mariners were routed for a third straight game, and lost for the fourth straight time, on Tuesday night at Nationals Park. The 10-1 final score was reflective of the discrepancy between the Nationals’ hitting and the Mariners’ pitching. Seattle has been outscored 36-4 in those four losses.
Coming off his best big-league outing of his career — 71/3 shutout innings — against the A’s, Mariners starter Christian Bergman was reminded he wasn’t facing Oakland’s lineup, but a collection of potent hitters capable of putting up six runs a night or nearly double that on this occasion.
Bergman endured endless raindrops and line drives in his four innings, which included a soul-crushing, ERA-inflating eight-run fourth inning, featuring three homers. His final line: four innings pitched, 10 runs allowed on 14 hits with two walks and no strikeouts. He’s the fourth pitcher in franchise history to allow 14 or more hits in a game — the other three being Doug Fister, Brandon Maurer and Greg Hibbard. The Nationals had nine hits in the fourth inning, tying a franchise record.
Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon offered yet another regrettable reminder to the Mariners that not drafting him in 2011 with the No. 2 overall pick might have been a franchise-limiting mistake. Rendon went 3 for 4, crushing a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Nationals their first lead of the game. He followed that by ripping a leadoff double and later a three-run homer in the inning that would not end.
Before the 2011 draft, the Mariners were debating on whether to select Rendon, a hard-hitting infielder at Rice University, or one of four top pitchers — right-handers Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer and Dylan Bundy or left-hander Danny Hultzen.
In the days leading up to the draft, all indications were that then-general manager Jack Zduriencik and amateur scouting director Tom McNamara were leaning toward selecting Rendon, who was coming off somewhat of a down junior season where he was hampered by ankle injuries.
But on draft day, after Cole was selected by the Pirates with the first pick, the Mariners stunned much of the baseball world by taking Hultzen instead of Rendon. By all accounts, Hultzen was considered the pitcher most big-league ready and the “safest” of the four pitchers.
“Pitching is a premium,” Jack Zduriencik said at the time. “Try to sign a really, really good pitcher out on the market. If this guy is on the fast track, and this guy is the kind of guy we think he is, it’s going to be nice to add him to this staff.”
Hultzen appeared to be on the fast track to the big leagues until shoulder issues, including multiple surgeries, derailed his career. He’s never thrown a big-league pitch.
Meanwhile, Rendon has turned into a solid everyday third baseman, posting a career .273 batting average and .779 on-base plus slugging percentage. But against the Mariners? He looks All-World. In four games vs. Seattle, Rendon is 8 for 16 with three doubles, three homers and seven RBI.
And while on the subject of high Mariners draft picks, the Mariners’ only offense came from another high pick still hoping to meet expectations. Called up from a stint in Tacoma to rework his swing and get back to basics, catcher Mike Zunino, the No. 3 pick of the 2012 draft, belted his first homer of the season. He led off the sixth inning with a solo blast on a 3-1 fastball off Nationals starter Joe Ross.