As it turns out, the Seattle Mariners had a reason to breathe easier Saturday afternoon after their 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
It looked a lot worse for a while.
Second baseman Robinson Cano was hit by an errant infield throw prior to the top of the seventh inning. It initially raised a big knot on the left side of his forehead and left him dizzy.
Cano was helped to the clubhouse, where he underwent Major League Baseball’s concussion protocol. He was cleared by medical personnel. Although he has a deep bruise, the knot is mostly gone, and he could play Sunday in the series finale.
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“Thank God, I didn’t lose consciousness,” Cano said. “It just hurts right on that spot. Other than that, everything is good. Hopefully, I can play tomorrow. I feel good right now.
“I can walk, and I’ve been able to remember everything. They did the tests, and everything was good. Hopefully, everything goes well through the night.”
As for the game, this was familiar stuff. The Mariners didn’t do enough at the plate, managing just two runs in 7 2/3 innings against Garrett Richards (8-5) before the Angels’ bullpen closed out the victory.
“We faced an extremely tough pitcher,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a low-scoring game. He lived at 96 (mph) most of the day. He sped us up, threw some nasty breaking balls.
“He’s a tough cookie.”
Mariners starter J.A. Happ (3-5) is now winless in nine starts over the past seven weeks. He steadied after yielding a two-run homer in the first inning to Kole Calhoun before hitting another bump in a decisive two-run seventh.
“I felt I was making pitches, pretty much, all game,” Happ said. “I’m sick of saying I’m frustrated, and I’m sick of being frustrated. But I felt good today, and I feel if I stay right there, things are going to turn.”
The Mariners had just two hits against Richards before breaking though in the sixth inning after one-out singles by Mike Zunino and Logan Morrison put runners at first and third.
Richards bounced a run-scoring wild pitch past catcher Carlos Perez before third baseman David Freese saved the tying run by making a diving stop on Seth Smith’s grounder up the line.
“Play of the game,” McClendon said. “That’s probably a double and a run scores, and Robby at the plate.”
Instead, Smith settled for an infield single, and Morrison had to stop at third. That turned into a huge play when the Angels converted Cano’s hard grounder to second into an inning-ending double play.
The Mariners were on the board but still trailed, 2-1.
Cano was hit in the forehead when the Angels took infield drills prior to the top of the seventh. The Mariners then mounted a two-out threat when Mark Trumbo walked and went to third on Brad Miller’s single.
Dustin Ackley struck out on a check swing on a breaking ball in the dirt.
The game got away in the Angels’ seventh, which started when Mike Trout pulled a double to left. That prompted an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, but Happ loaded the bases with an unintentional four-pitch walk to Freese.
Johnny Giavotella squirted an RBI single through the right side for a 3-1 lead, and the Angels added another run on Perez’s high-chop grounder to short before Happ ended the inning.
“I felt good, even in the seventh,” Happ said. “I felt I made a good pitch to Trout, and he put a good swing on it. Then after that, they were able to manufacture a few.
“I’ve got to feel good about today. I can’t be down about that.”
Zunino’s leadoff homer in the eighth got one run back. Richards exited after a two-out throwing error by shortstop Taylor Featherston put Willie Bloomquist, who replaced Cano, on second base.
Reliever Joe Smith ended the inning by striking out Nelson Cruz. Huston Street wobbled through the ninth for his 21st save when Zunino’s deep two-out drive to left with two on hooked just foul.
“I knew I hooked it,” Zunino said.