Much has been talked about recently in regards to the high pitch count of Los Angeles Angels starting pitchers. The ripple effect of this is taxing the Angel relief pitchers. This week was no different until Saturday when Garrett Richards went to the mound trying to find himself.
After a very forgettable series for the Los Angeles Angels against the streaking Boston Red Sox (17-3) that saw the Angels get outscored 27-3 in a three-game sweep by Boston, the Angels were hoping to get back on track against the San Francisco Giants.
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The first game of the series on Friday night was more of the same as Andrew Heaney lasted only 4.1 innings being knocked after giving up six runs in the fifth inning to put the Angels in a 7-0 hole. The bullpen had to pitch 4.2 innings and did so only allowing one run, unfortunately the offense never could get much going other than a CHris Young solo homer.
The 8-1 loss against the Giants extended the Angel losing streak to four and during that stretch the team was outscored 35-4. So when Garrett Richards took the mound on Saturday night the Angels were in desperate need of a stopper, an ace-like performance by the ‘ace’ of the Angels starting rotation.
However Richards despite a 2-0 record and a respectable 3.60 ERA has had his struggles as well with going deep into games. The culprit for Richards like many of the Angel starters is a high pitch count.
On Saturday night Richards started out similar to his first three starts racking 64 pitches in the first two innings and gave up an early homer to Brandon Belt to put the Angels in a 2-0 hole. Richards however settled in over the next four innings using only 40 pitches to get through the next four innings allowing only two hits and striking out seven batters in that span.
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The Angels offense also got off the snide as Jefry Marte hit his first home run of the season to cut the Giants lead in half and then Mike Trout tied the game in the third with a tape measure home run to left-center. By the time Richards took the mound in the sixth inning he was rolling and the righty finished with a flourish striking out the side to finish with 11 strike outs on the night and more importantly only one walk and 104 pitches with 69 of them being strikes.
Albert Pujols gave Richards a chance for his third victory hitting a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to give the Angels their first lead in five games at 4-2. The bullpen then was effective allowing only one run over the final three innings to seal the 4-3 victory. Keynan Middleton was especially sharp in picking up his fifth save of the season striking out three of the five batters he faced in recording the final four outs.
The story of the night though was Richards. He acted like the ace the Angels needed stepping up when it was needed. Hopefully Richards can repeat this many more times this season. Only time will tell.