SEATTLE — The way the Rays are going now, it's not going to matter how their rotation is set up when they get home in a couple of weeks to play the Red Sox.
In an effort to align their top starters for what they consider a big June 14-16 series, the Rays shuffled their rotation and sent ineffective Andy Sonnanstine out for another try on Friday against the Mariners.
But Sonnanstine failed to deliver, and their offense failed to show up, and the Rays failed again, losing 7-0.
That's 10 losses in their past 14 games, and 13 of 19, if you're still counting, dropping the Rays to 29-28 and farther into third place behind the Yankees and the Red Sox and elevating the level of frustration.
"If there was a camera in the dugout, you could definitely see it on everybody's faces,'' third baseman Evan Longoria said. "Nobody's really happy. But thankfully, we're not that far out, and we're not playing good baseball at all. So there's room for improvement, and there's time to improve.
"But we can't keep saying that and saying that and by the time we look up again we're 15 games out. At this point, we just have to find a way to turn it around. It's a long road trip, and it's going to become a lot longer if we don't figure it out pretty quick.''
The lack of offense has become an increasingly glaring problem.
Getting shut down by Seattle's Cy Young-winning ace Felix Hernandez on Thursday was relatively understandable. But getting shut out Friday by lefty Jason Vargas is, for a supposedly contending team, somewhat unacceptable.
The Rays matched their season low with four hits, all singles (two coming in the ninth) and had only one other baserunner (on a walk) as Vargas logged his first shutout.
Of course, it didn't help that Sonnanstine had them in a 4-0 hole by the third inning and down 7-0 by the fifth.
Sonnanstine allowed only four hits during his five innings, but the problem was that three were home runs and he walked five.
"I feel like I never really gave our team a chance to win,'' Sonnanstine said. "Any time you're involved in a game like this, it's always frustrating.''
There are different ways to measure Sonnanstine's ineffectiveness as he has made four starts (and a fifth that was rained out) plus seven relief appearances in working 312/3 innings, such as his 0-2 record and 5.68 ERA but perhaps none better than this:
He has struck out nine batters and allowed 10 home runs.
"He hasn't been as sharp as we thought he would have been to this point,'' manager Joe Maddon said.
Justin Smoak took him deep with two outs in the first. Then Adam Kennedy hit a two-run shot on an 0-and-2 pitch with two outs in the fifth, and Miguel Olivo followed with another two pitches later.
Oh, and in between? Sonnanstine managed to allow three runs without allowing a ball out of the infield.
He hit the first batter and walked the second. Then the Rays messed up a bunt play and didn't get an out anywhere, loading the bases as Carlos Peguero beat Longoria to the bag.
Sonnanstine walked Smoak for the first run. Fill-in first baseman Felipe Lopez knocked down Jack Cust's grounder but could only get the out at first, allowing the second to score. After one out, and even that was an adventure as Sean Rodriguez caught then dropped Franklin Gutierrez's liner, and an intentional walk, Olivo singled off Longoria's glove to score the third.
"All those funky little things in that inning conspired against us,'' Maddon said.
He tried to find some positives, pointing to balls crushed by Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton that died in the wind and vast outfield at Safeco Field, and how both teams got only four hits, but the Mariners made the ones they had count.
"There-in lies the difference,'' Maddon said.
Lately there's been a lot of difference.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.