Nolasco, Angels take aim at Mariners (Jul 01, 2017)

BY AP • July 1, 2017

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ricky Nolasco will start for the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday against the Seattle Mariners, and certainly he will feel a lot lighter on the mound.

Nolasco had been carrying around the burden of a losing streak that was getting out of hand. He had lost seven consecutive starts, and the Angels had lost 10 in a row in games started by Nolasco.

With that weight on his shoulders, he had to face a hot Dodgers club last Monday that had won 10 in a row. But Nolasco flipped the script, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings to end the losing streak.

Before beating the Dodgers, Nolasco's previous win was April 27. Then his troubles began with his next start, an 8-7 loss that happened to come against the very same Mariners that he'll face Saturday.

Nolasco, though, said his approach will be the same as it was against the Dodgers, and the same as it was during the losing streak. Essentially, the idea is to block out the noise and focus pitch by pitch.

"You've still got to go out there and make quality pitches and get people out," he told mlb.com. "Had a 'nice' little streak going there, but I've been feeling good during whatever games I've been losing. I just tried to carry that over and make some pitches."

Nolasco's biggest problem has been giving up the long ball. His 23 home runs allowed is the most in the American League in his 16 starts. Last year, he gave up 26 homers in 32 starts.

That's not a good sign for the Angels and Nolasco, who has been hit hard by the Mariners' Nos. 3 and 4 hitters Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz.

Cano is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with three homers and Cruz is hitting .333 (7-for-21) with three homers against Nolasco. Cano hit a homer in Nolasco's last start against Seattle on May 3.

The Mariners will start Sam Gaviglio, who was drafted in 2011 by the St. Louis Cardinals, traded to the Mariners in 2014 and reached the majors for the first time this season, getting the opportunity because of injuries in the rotation.

This will be his first start against the Angels, but he has established himself in the Mariners' rotation, going 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in nine games (eight starts). Mariners manager Scott Servais, however, doesn't want to put too much pressure on his 27-year-old rookie.

"The expectations haven't changed and they won't," Servais told mlb.com. "Just do your thing and keep us in ballgames, give us a chance to win, trust your stuff with the sinker and getting the breaking ball over when he has to.

"I don't think he'll think any differently. I don't want to raise any expectations or want him to do more than he's done, because he's been fine."

Gaviglio's biggest problem this season seems to be finding his comfort level on the road. His ERA is 5.40 in four road games, compared with 2.00 in five games at Safeco Field.



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