Game No. 24: Los Angeles Angels (11-12) vs. New York Yankees (14-10)

By Jose Serrano

Aug 12, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Garrett Richards (43) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

One of the season’s longer road trip concludes Sunday as the Angels look for a series win in the Bronx. After thrashing Yankees’ pitching for 13 runs Friday night, their Jekyll and Hyde-like hitters went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position while leaving 10 men on base yesterday. On Sunday, the Halos offense faces their biggest challenge to date in 25-year-old Masahiro Tanaka.

A win ships the Angels back to Anaheim on a positive note. They potentially end the nine-game trek with a 5-4 record and some momentum heading into series’ with the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers.

Pitching Matchup: Garrett Richards (2-0, 2.52 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (3-0, 2.15 ERA)

The storyline heading into Sunday night’s rubber game centers on how Tanaka fares against Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. The x-factor, however, may be Garrett Richards and his 1.00 ERA on the road.

Richards has been the saving grace on a pitching staff that’s had its share of meltdowns. He yielded only one hit through six innings in Washington last Monday, striking out six or more batters for the third time this year. More importantly, Richards’ hasn’t allowed a home run all season and can say the same about all of the current Yankees.

The right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.14 ERA in three career games-two-starts-against New York. Despite only allowing two runs through eight innings in his sole start last year, Richards still got tagged with the loss. Considering Tanaka’s stellar debut, he may need a similar performance today.

Tanaka already set a Yankees record for most strikeouts for a pitcher’s first four outings. His 0.82 nears the best in the majors and batters are hitting .149 after their initial at-bat. Needless to say, the Angels’ work is cut out for them.

In his last start, Tanaka limited Boston to two earned runs, striking out seven. Although, one of his apparent weaknesses is in giving up the long ball. He’s allowed four this season, including two against the Red Sox last Tuesday. With the Angels leading MLB in homers- and Tanaka’s .417 batting average allowed to cleanup hitters-whoever is in the No. 4 slot may decide the game.

Walk offs:

  1. Richards hasn’t allowed a home run in four starts this season.
  2. Trout has hit safely in 15 of 17 career games at Yankee Stadium.
  3. The Angels have lost 21 of the last 29 in New York, including the playoffs.

TV: 5:05 p.m. ESPN

Radio: KLAA 830, WFAN 660/101.9 WFAN