For the first three months of the season, strong pitching kept the Mariners in contention in the American League West despite a run-challenged offense. But now with the arms tiring, Seattle's season has turned south in a historic hurry.
The Yankees put the latest needle in the Mariners' long-since-deflated balloon with a 10-3 victory Monday as Seattle's franchise-record losing streak reached a not-so-sweet 16 straight games.
Left-hander Jason Vargas suffered his fourth consecutive loss during the team's dry spell, his record dipping to 6-9 with a 4.09 ERA. The 28-year-old southpaw got knocked out after just four innings, giving up eight runs (four earned) and seven hits with a pair of home runs.
Since a strong stretch during which he hurled three shutouts in six starts between June 3 and July 1, Vargas has allowed 30 hits and 16 earned runs in 21 innings over his last four outings, and lasted just three and four frames in his two most-recent ventures.
Seattle's offense couldn't overcome that kind of deficit, managing eight hits and three runs off former Mariners starter Freddy Garcia in 7 2/3 innings as the 35-year-old improved to 9-7.
Seattle has been outscored 97-44 during the stretch and has been swept in four consecutive series, it's last win coming July 5, when the Mariners pulled their record even at 43-43 with a 4-3 victory at Oakland that kept them at 2 1/2 games back in the West.
In less than three weeks since, the Mariners have plummeted to the division cellar at 43-59, and are 15 1/2 back of the Rangers.
After a nearly two-hour rain delay, the Yankees wasted no time jumping on Vargas, with first baseman Mark Teixeira blasting his 27th home run of the season into the second deck in left field for a 2-0 lead just three batters into the first.
After Derek Jeter popped an opposite-field home run in the third, New York ripped things wide open with five runs in the fourth, helped by errors by Adam Kennedy and Dustin Ackley that resulted in four unearned runs and left Vargas trailing, 8-1.
Seattle got one run in the third on a sacrifice fly to center by Ichiro Suzuki after Justin Smoak doubled and moved to third on a Franklin Gutierrez base hit. But Gutierrez was gunned down trying to go to second on a ball that momentarily got away from catcher Russell Martin, ending any notion of a bigger rally.
Ackley legged out a hustle double with one out in the fourth, taking second on a ball hit to left-center, but was left there, and the Mariners didn't get another baserunner until the seventh, when three straight singles led to Seattle's second run as Smoak collected the RBI.
Smoak, dropped to seventh in the batting order after a month-long slump, went 2-for-4 for his first multihit game during the 16-game losing skid.
Shortstop Brendan Ryan extended his hitting streak to nine games with an RBI double in the eighth.