Richards Earns 11th Win as Los Angeles Angels Blank Texas

By Jose Serrano

Jul 11, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels third baseman David Freese (6) throws to first base during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Angels shut out the Rangers 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

All-Star or not, Garrett Richards is a legitimate Cy Young award  candidate.

The 26-year-old righty shut out a struggling Texas ballclub through seven innings Friday night, scattering five hits while striking out eight. He earns a seventh consecutive victory and trails only Yankees rookie Masahiro Tanaka for the league lead.

Richards (11-2) and Rangers starter Nick Tepesch went pitch-for-pitch through the first three frames before Mike Trout drew first blood. The hot-hitting outfielder tagged Tepesch’s mislocated sinker into the Angels’ bullpen in left-center, giving the Halos a 1-0 lead. It was Trout’s 22nd homer of the season and second of the series.

The blast snapped Tepesch’s string of 10 straight batters retired and proved to be more than enough for Richards, who retired 11 of his final 13 batters.

“Guys really feel like they have trouble picking up (Richards’) curveball, he’s got a great one,” Josh Hamilton said in a post-game interview with Fox Sport West. “When guys got him throwing 98 (MPH) the whole game and he’s got a nasty curveball, it’s pretty tough.”

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Tepesch (3-5) allowed three runs over six innings in an otherwise solid outing. Texas, meanwhile, drops its sixth in a row and 20th over the last 23 games. They left six men on base and went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position.

A night after tallying a season-high 15 hits and 17 runs, the Angels managed only one extra base hit; Trout’s solo shot. Seventh inning errors lead to the other two runs. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton led off with singles with Pujols advanced to third on Rougned Odor‘s inadvertent deflection. Erick Aybar‘s ensuing liner to left scored Pujols and knocked Tepesch out of the game.

Rangers center fielder Leonys Martin booted David Freese‘s one-out single up the middle to bring Hamilton home, all but sealing the 3-0 win.

Richards still touched 97 MPH on his fastballs once the bottom of the frame came around, but a high pitch count (109) gave way to Kevin Jepsen and eventually Joe Smith who picked up his 13th save.

After losing eight of nine games in Arlington last season, the Angels can secure their first series win in Texas since 2012 tomorrow night.