"I told Garrett that all the hype will be on Tanaka tonight," said Weaver, the Angels' ace, "but after this game, a lot of people are going to be talking about you."
Richards battled Tanaka to a draw, both giving up two runs, Richards on three hits in seven innings and Tanaka on five hits in 61/3 innings.
Dozens of reporters from his native Oklahoma didn't start chronicling Richards' every move the way the Japanese media scrutinizes Tanaka, but as his wins mounted, his earned-run average dropped, and word spread of his 96-mph fastball and wipeout slider, Richards began to gain acclaim.
ESPN analyst Buster Olney wrote last week that Richards, in his first full season as a starter, "has quickly developed a reputation for having some of the most dominant stuff in the sport." Richards, 26, also topped a list of baseball's "next wave of potential aces" on ESPN's website.
All of which meant nothing to the last-place
Richards gave up three runs or fewer in seven of his first eight starts; he gave up three runs before recording an out Monday. He limited batters to an
Richards struck out 54 batters in 52 innings of his first eight starts; he whiffed one in seven innings Monday, his record falling to 4-1 and his ERA jumping from 2.42 to 2.90.
Richards wasn't even the best Oklahoman on the mound. That honor went to Tulsa native Dallas Keuchel, the Astros left-hander who came within an out of throwing his second straight shutout, giving up two runs and five hits in 82/3 innings to improve to 5-2.
"They got me early on with some timely hitting," Richards said. "I made some good pitches, and they were spitting on some good two-strike breaking balls. Those are usually pitches guys swing at, but tonight they laid off them."
“It was just a miscommunication between me and Chris and Luis,” Richards said, referring to catcher
Altuve scored on the error, and Springer took third.
Consecutive two-out singles by Altuve, Springer and Fowler in the second gave Houston a 4-0 lead. The Astros pushed it to 5-0 in the third when Castro's popup to shallow left-center dropped for a double and Carter hit an RBI single to center.
Richards blanked Houston on two hits from the fourth through seventh.