PHILADELPHIA — Three of the
' nine regulars —
, Kole Calhoun and
— remain on the disabled list, and two of their top hitters,
, are mired in slumps.
Leading off Wednesday was Efren Navarro, a seven-year minor leaguer with 23 big-league at-bats. Batting cleanup was
Two infielders, Grant Green and
A daunting task for the Angels? Hardly. They shrugged and carried on, as if none of it mattered, riding another superb start by
"We miss guys like Josh and Kole," said reliever
The Angels have gotten significant contributions from reserves such as
Richards, who is emerging as one of the better young starters in baseball, allowed five hits in seven shutout innings Wednesday, striking out eight and walking none, to improve to 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA.
With runners on second and third, one out in the sixth and the Angels leading, 3-0, Richards struck out cleanup batter
"I had a good, consistent delivery, I threw everything down in the zone, I had pretty good command and mixed speeds," Richards, 25, said. "When guys got on base, I didn't panic."
"Before, if he was in a tight spot, he'd try to go harder, harder," catcher
Smith threw a clean ninth to put the finishing touches on the kind of pitching effort that has allowed the Angels to absorb the struggles of Trout, who is hitting .154 (eight for 52) in 14 games, and Pujols, who is batting .100 (three for 30) in seven games.
It also allowed the Angels to win despite going three for 15 with runners in scoring position and failing to score after putting two on with no outs in the fifth and a runner on third with no outs in the seventh.
"We let these guys hang around," Manager
Despite the injuries and several costly bullpen meltdowns in April, the Angels are 21-18 and in much better position than they were through 39 games in 2013, when they were 15-24 and 10 games back in the American League West.
And they return to Anaheim for a 10-game homestand against three struggling teams, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Houston.