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Nolasco gets nod for Mariners vs. Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ricky Nolasco will take the mound for the Los Angeles Angels against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday at Angel Stadium in what will be his last start of the season, and most likely his final start in an Angels uniform.

Nolasco's contract is up after the season, though he does have a vesting option. He needs to throw 202 2/3 innings this season in order to trigger the option that would guarantee him $13 million for the 2018 season.

Nolasco, however, has thrown 175 2/3 innings, meaning he'd need to throw 27 innings on Saturday.

Not gonna happen.

It's not that Nolasco didn't have a chance to get there. He hasn't missed a start all season, and Saturday's will be his 33rd, matching a career high reached twice before.

Nolasco, though, was his own worst enemy, failing to last as many as five innings seven times and reaching seven innings only four times, the last one coming more than two months ago on July 14.

While Nolasco leads the club in starts and innings pitched, he also is among the American League leaders in categories he'd prefer to avoid. He is 6-15 with a 5.02 ERA, the 15 losses second most behind Boston's Rick Porcello (17).

He's also fourth in home runs allowed (34), sixth in hits allowed (198) and sixth in earned runs allowed (98).

Nolasco, though, will be facing a Mariners team that was his opponent in his best game of the season. He threw a three-hit shutout, with seven strikeouts and no walks, on July 1 in a 4-0 win. In all, he has faced the Mariners a total of five times, going 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA.

Win or lose, though, Nolasco's postgame demeanor seems never to change.

"It's baseball," he told mlb.com. "You just keep trying to make pitches. Just the way the game goes."

He won't be happy to see the Mariners' Nelson Cruz, who has hit Nolasco well in his career, batting .462 (12 for 26) with three doubles, four homers and seven RBI. Cruz's 38th home run of the season came on Wednesday against Oakland and had an exit velocity of 116.8 mph, the hardest hit home run by a Mariner since Statcast started measuring exit velocity in 2015.

"That's pretty hard," Mariners manager Scott Servais told mlb.com. "For us who get to watch him every day, it doesn't really surprise us anymore, how strong he is and how the ball jumps off his bat when he squares it up. We've seen a few of those this year. I don't know if there's been any at 117 (mph), but we've certainly seen a few hard-hit balls from him get over the fence. When he hit the ball, I thought it was going to hook foul, but it just didn't have time, it was hit that hard."

Cruz hit his 39th homer of the year Friday against the Angels, and needs one more to have four consecutive 40-homer seasons.

Andrew Moore will start for the Mariners, his final start in a rookie season that has been all about learning how to battle through adversity. Moore won his major league debut, holding the Detroit Tigers to three runs and six hits in seven innings on June 22.

But he hasn't won since, and overall is 1-5 with a 5.34 ERA in 11 games (nine starts). He has faced the Angels once, giving up four runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings during a relief appearance on Aug. 11.

"He's held up just fine, he hasn't backed off," Servais told mlb.com. "I think he's learned a lot through the course of the season and the adjustments he's made and he'll stay with it."

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