Richards, Angels Bullpen One-Hit Mariners in Shutout

By Jose Serrano

Apr 9, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

These days, calling Garrett Richards the ace of the Angels pitching staff isn’t a stretch. The right-hander delivered another quality start Wednesday night, allowing one hit to Seattle Mariners batters in the Angels 2-0 victory.

Richards’ isn’t a strange to shutting the Mariners down, having done so last August, but this performance comes at a time when Mike Scioscia desperately needed someone to step up. He lasted seven inning and could have ventured into the eight were it not a high pitch count (104).

Aside from three walks, Abraham Almonte was to only Mariner to hit safely, reaching first base on a single. Richards goes to 2-0 with a .75 ERA on the young season and improves to 3-2 with a career 2.93 ERA against Seattle. More impressive is his 2.41 ERA in three starts at Safeco Field.

Joe Smith and Ernesto Frieri teamed up to complete the shutout, striking out three in the last two frames. Smith completed his third consecutive outing without allowing a run and continues to be the only consistent Angels reliever. Short on save opportunities thus far, Frieri earned his first of the season Wednesday after leading the team in saves the last two years.

Albert Pujols got one step closer to 500 home runs when he crushed a Roenis Elias changeup beyond the left field bullpen in the third inning. It was his second two-run bomb in as many nights and proved to be the only support Richards would need.

Pujols is six homers shy of becoming the 26th player to reach the milestone and moves into 26th place on the all-time home run list, just ahead of Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff.

The Angels salvage a split in the two-game series and beat Seattle for the first time this season. The don’t meet again until Memorial Day.