HOUSTON -- Nelson Cruz continues to deal with a painful left wrist that causes him to visibly cringe at times when he swings and misses at pitches, but the Mariners slugger will play as long as he can with his team still clinging to hopes of landing the final American League Wild Card berth.
"He really is grinding through it," manager Scott Servais said prior to Wednesday's series finale with the Astros. "You feel bad for him. You play the whole year and hope you're at your best right at the end, and he's having to deal with something uncomfortable. With something in your hand when you're swinging the bat, it is tough.
"But somehow, he keeps finding a way to put the bat on the ball at times when we need it and getting a few hits. We'll keep running him out there as long as he'll stay in there. I'm not taking him out until he tells me, 'That's it.' And why would you?"
Cruz, who entered Wednesday with 41 home runs and 102 RBIs, went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles in Tuesday's 8-4 loss, and he has remained productive at the plate despite the obvious discomfort. Since hurting the wrist while warming up with a weighted bat prior to his third at-bat in the final game of the past homestand, the 36-year-old has gone 10-for-22 (.455) with two doubles and four homers in five games on the road trip heading into Wednesday's finale.
Servais appreciates the effort from his veteran cleanup hitter.
"No doubt. I think it says a lot about his character," Servais said. "And the guys on the team notice, too. When you're not feeling 100 percent, you think, 'I've got to suck it up, because he is.' That's what leaders do."
Sticking with Marte
Though shortstop Ketel Marte has been struggling at the plate of late and he committed a costly throwing error in Tuesday's loss, the 22-year-old was back in the lineup for Wednesday's series finale.
"He made an error last night and it was untimely, unfortunate, whatever," Servais said. "We've got to this point, and for me, you have to kind of ride it out with him. I actually thought his at-bats last night were quite a bit better. He made some adjustments in early work [Tuesday] with [hitting coach Edgar Martinez] and the guys. He was having a very good game up until that point. Plays happen and it's part of the game."
Servais says despite what fans want, a manager can't be reactionary and make changes every time a mistake is made or a key player goes through a rough stretch.
"You can't just remove everybody every time they make an error," Servais said. "You won't have any players standing at the end of the year. It is part of it. You have to ride through it with him. He is young. There have been some really good days, and some days that haven't been so good."
• With 35 home runs, Robinson Canó is tied for the second most in a season by a Mariners second baseman. Bret Boone hit 37 in 2001 and had 35 in '03. No other Seattle second baseman has hit more than 25 in a season.
• Cano had two hits on Tuesday to give him 57 multihit games this year, the third most in the AL behind Mookie Betts of the Red Sox (65) and José Altuve of the Astros (62).
• Cruz is the first Mariners player to crack the 100-RBI mark since Raul Ibanez had 110 in 2008.