In a way, Friday night was all that
Richards did what he waited 17 months to do, dueling with
"What are you gonna do?" Richards asked. "Verlander was good too."
After their 3-0 loss to Houston before a loud crowd of 34,127 at Minute Maid Park, the Angels’ postseason dreams are nearing hopeless territory. Losers of five straight and under .500 for the first time since Aug. 10, they trail the
Richards could only contemplate what could have been if he were healthy throughout this season. He missed five months because of an irritated nerve in his biceps, forcing the team to shuffle through below-average starters. Since he made it back, he has been as good as ever, his performances keeping the Angels afloat in a lean September.
"I can't help but think that I haven't been here the whole year," Richards said. "So, I'm trying to make the most of it now."
On Friday, that was still limited to six innings, his longest start since April 15, 2016. Richards' pitch counts in his four starts since his return form an unvarying pattern: 52, 63, 74, and 85.
As soon as Richards descended the steps into the dugout after the sixth, Angels manager
"He had his mind made up," the right-hander said. "He's the manager."
Scioscia said he thought Richards could begin another inning and throw "a couple pitches."
"But," the manager said, "you don't want to find out on the backside that it was a little too much."
Alex Bregman next walked, Petit's typically pristine command betraying him. With one out, Petit left a 3-and-1 fastball over the middle, and Yuli Gurriel crushed the decisive three-run homer to left-center.
"Getting him out of the game," Hinch said of Richards, "is obviously key."
The Astros deployed three of their best pitchers in a virtual postseason rehearsal. Verlander, Chris Devenski and Ken Giles held the Angels to two hits, and the first came at the game's start.
Newly installed as the Angels’ leadoff hitter,
In all, the Angels made 24 outs between hits before pinch-hitter Ben Revere stroked a leadoff single to begin the ninth. That sparked a mini-rally, as Calhoun walked to bring up
The Angels (76-77) are on the brink of elimination, functionally if not yet mathematically. By the time they get to Chicago on Monday for a four-game series against the lowly
Left-hander Andrew Heaney (shoulder impingement) again played catch Friday. Though he has reported feeling well, he's increasingly unlikely to be able to pitch this season. … Right-hander Huston Street (rotator cuff strain) has plateaued in his rehab, Scioscia said. His season is likely over. … Third baseman Yunel Escobar (oblique strain) will head to Arizona on Sunday or Monday. He could be activated after a few instructional-league games.