ANAHEIM -- Win or lose, Ricky Nolasco remains the same -- poised and collected.The Angels right-hander has weathered an odd year through his 12th season in the league, but he's held the same disposition through it all. His manner didn't change, even after he hurled a 4-0 shutout of the Mariners
ANAHEIM -- Win or lose, Ricky Nolasco remains the same -- poised and collected.
The Angels right-hander has weathered an odd year through his 12th season in the league, but he's held the same disposition through it all. His manner didn't change, even after he hurled a 4-0 shutout of the Mariners on Saturday night.
"That's the big leagues," Nolasco said. "You're going to do good, and there's going to be times where you're not. Those guys get paid a lot of money to hit the ball, too. So, you've just got to stay positive, level-headed."
The cool approach proved successful against a Mariners squad that had its way with the Angels' pitching staff the night before, when they manufactured 10 runs on 17 hits. Nolasco limited the output Saturday, holding Seattle to just three hits against no walks, and a goose egg in the run column.
While Nolasco insists he's felt the same throughout the season -- as his team-leading eight quality starts this season perhaps suggests -- he was special Saturday. He spun the first shutout by an Angels starter since he did so on Aug. 31, 2016, against Cincinnati.
The 34-year-old said he was able to use the Mariners' aggressiveness at the plate against them.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia credited him for demonstrating great command of his fastball and good sinking action to go with a good curveball and slider.
"Early, they hit some balls hard," Scioscia said. "I think that as he settled and made pitches, you saw the mishits, you saw the ground balls, you saw the seven strikeouts. Those were some things he was able to do by commanding the counts better."
Backing Nolasco's apparent confidence was the Angels' skillful defense behind him. Center fielder Cameron Maybin made several magnificent outs to aid the effort, while shortstop Andrelton Simmons and third baseman Yunel Escobar patrolled the infield, stabbing hard-hit grounders left and right.
"I think with any complete game, you've got to have some luck, and I definitely had some," Nolasco said. "It wasn't just me, it was the defense, too."
Nolasco entered the game coming off an outstanding start against the Dodgers, in which he hurled 6 1/3 scoreless innings en route to picking up his first winning decision after losing seven straight. The veteran said it typically takes him "about 50 innings to get going and start feeling kind of decent and normal," and he seeks "to keep it going all the way through to October."
Scioscia compared Saturday night to the form Nolasco had achieved at the end of last season, when he won each of his last three decisions of the year while allowing one unearned run across 21 innings.
"Tonight, that was it. Tonight was outstanding," Scioscia said. "He's worked hard at it. He's had a rocky first half, a little spotty. But the last couple outings, you could see his stuff come alive.
"We're going to really need it."
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.