Angel Stadium transforms into a winter wonderland tonight in celebration of the halfway point to Christmas. For the Los Angeles Angels, the gifts started coming last weekend.
After sweeping a three-game set with Texas, the Angels escaped with a narrow 8-6 win over Minnesota last night in which they scored five first-inning runs. Left-hander C.J. Wilson subsequently gave up five in the following frame, but notched his first victory since June 8 after limiting the Twins to one run through the remainder of his outing.
Mike Trout rocketed Kyle Gibson’s fastball over the right field wall for a two-run blast in the second, giving the Halos a 7-5 lead. Los Angeles’ bullpen did the rest, shutting out Minnesota on two hits through the final four frames. Ernesto Frieri saw his first action since surrendering a walk-off grand slam last Thursday and pitched a scoreless eight in setting Joe Smith up for the save.
The Angels look to tie their season-high fifth win in a row, a feat reached earlier this month (June 6-10). They’re gained two games on Oakland in the span and trail by four in the AL West.
Garrett Richards has posted a 0.67 ERA with 30 strikeouts in June. He’s allowed two runs in four starts this month, allowing no more than four hits each time. Richards is the model of consistency on a pitching staff ranking third in WHIP, wins, and batting average against in the junior circuit.
Opponents bat .206 against Richards- second best in the AL- and strike out 9.03 times per nine innings. The right-hander stymied Rangers hitters last Friday, scattering four hits while giving up just one run in the Angels 7-3 victory.
Tonight, Richards faces the Twinkies for the first time as a starter after throwing a scoreless inning in relief against them last season.
Minnesota’s 30-year-old Yohan Pino allowed two runs and struck out seven in his major league debut last week. The long-time minor leaguer retired 13 of the final 14 White Sox faced but didn’t factor in the decision. Originally signed by the Twins in 2004, Pino bounced around various organizations before the Twins re-signed him last year.
- Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill are a combined 0-for-3 against Pino at the minor league level.
- Minnesota has lost six straight road games, dating back to June 14 in Detroit.
- Richards leads Angels starters in WHIP (1.11), WAR (2.4), and ERA.
TV: 7:05 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West, Fox Sports North (Minnesota)
Radio: KLAA 830, 96.3 K-TWIN, TIBN