It turned into a crummy 37th birthday Saturday for Nelson Cruz, and it was crummy night overall for the Mariners in a 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Cruz had the Mariners’ only hit through four-plus innings against Ricky Nolasco but was thrown out at second in trying to stretch a single into a double. That was in the second inning. He didn’t bat again.
"I felt it sliding into second base," he said. "I don’t know exactly what happened. I think I put too much pressure on it when I slid there. I had a little pain. So we’re take another look (Sunday)."
Cruz’s status is day to day, but the Mariners are operating with a short bench and might need to make a roster move prior to Sunday’s series finale.
"We’ll make that decision when we see how it is (Sunday)," manager Scott Servais said. "We’ll go from there."
The rest of the night wasn’t good either.
The Mariners opened the second half of their season the same way they opened the first half: With a shutout loss.
They looked feeble against Nolasco (4-9) one night after lashing 17 hits in a 10-0 romp in the series opener. They also missed a chance to climb back to .500 and into second place in the American League West Division.
Rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio (3-3) gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings, which marked the seventh time in 10 starts that he permitted three or fewer earned runs.
It wasn’t good enough.
Nolasco entered the game with a 4.86 ERA and had allowed a league-high 23 homers, but he permitted just three hits in breezing to a complete-game shutout.
"He mixes speeds real well," Kyle Seager said. "He throws his off-speed pitches for strikes. He was landing some off-speed pitches and getting ahead, and he really wasn’t missing in the middle of the plate."
It was Nolasco’s 12th career complete game and sixth career shutout.
The Angels opened the scoring when Andrelton Simmons hit a one-out homer to left in the second inning for a 1-0 lead.
"I just hung a slider," Gaviglio said, "and he took advantage of it."
Gaviglio found more trouble in the third when Ben Revere led off with a bloop single to left and, when ignored, stole second. Revere moved to third on a ground and scored on Cameron Maybin’s single into center.
A balk moved Maybin to second before Gaviglio walked Kole Calhoun, but the Angels settled for one run when Albert Pujols grounded into a double play.
Gaviglio went on to retire 10 in a row before Yunel Escobar started the seventh inning with a single. Escobar was still at first with one out when Marc Rzepczynski replaced Gaviglio…and the game got away.
Luis Valbuena won a left-on-left match with a slicing double to left that moved Escobar to third. After an intentional walk to Martin Maldonado, Rzepczynski buried a wild pitch that got through catcher Chooch Ruiz.
Escobar scored and the other runners moved up. Ben Revere’s slow chopper to first produced the inning’s second out, but Valbuena scored for a 4-0 lead. Tony Zych replaced Rzepczynski and got the inning’s final out.
"Sam did a really good job," Servais said. "Again. That’s what he does. He controls the game. He manages it very well. We went to the bullpen tonight. Zep has been very good. He gave up a hit. It happens once in a while."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Right fielder Mitch Haniger retreated and made a nice running catch on Cameron Maybin’s leadoff drive in the eighth inning.
PLUS: Gaviglio got the game into the seventh inning and had given up two runs when replaced by Rzepczynski…Haniger settled for a single in three at-bats but continues to make goo contact.
MINUS: The Mariners got three hits against Nolasco. Three…Cruz’s absence, however long it is, creates a big hole in the Mariners’ lineup…Rzepczynski gave up a double to Valbuena that fueled the Angels’ two-run seventh…Gaviglio had trouble keeping runners in check. Maybin nearly executed a delayed steal in the first. Revere easily stole second third, and Gaviglio committed a balk later in the third in attempting to keep Maybin close.
STAT PACK: The Mariners suffered their seventh shutout loss, which ranks second in the majors.
QUOTABLE: Cruz suffered the injury after hitting a ball off the wall in the second inning. Maybin played the carom well and made a strong throw for the out at second.
While Cruz suffered the injury on the slide, he appeared awkward as he rounded first base. Here’s why:
"I hit it and, running to first base, I lost it," he said. "I didn’t know where it was. I had no clue where the ball was. So I almost missed first base while trying to see the ball. He made a pretty good throw. It was on the money."
SHORT HOPS: The Angels added ex-Mariners infielder Nick Franklin to their active roster prior to Saturday’s game in a series of roster moves. Franklin started at second base and batted ninth. The Angels also activated right-hander Bud Norris from the disabled list after optioning right-handed reliever Brooks Pounders and 1B/3B/OF Jefry Marte to Triple-A Salt Lake.
ON DECK: The Mariners and Angels conclude their three-game series at 12:37 p.m. Sunday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.
Left-hander James Paxton (5-3 with a 3.44 ERA) will Los Angeles right-hander Jesse Chavez (5-8, 5.04).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners