Angels pitcher Garrett Richards was asked after Wednesday night’s 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins if his 2/3-inning, five-hit, five-run shellacking at the hands of the Oakland Athletics on May 30 was a “defining point” of his season.
“I don’t even remember that game, man,” Richards said. “That was a month ago.”
To refresh: Four batters in, Richards gave up two singles, a walk and a grand slam to Brandon Moss. The A’s loaded the bases again with two singles and a walk, and Richards walked Coco Crisp to force in another run. Richards threw 37 pitches and recorded two outs before being pulled in an eventual 9-5 loss.
“After that Oakland start, it took him maybe 24 hours to regroup and get on a mission,” Manager Mike Scioscia said of Richards. “Leading up to his next start, there was no doubt about what he wanted to prove and show he can do, and he did. That’s definitely a good sign in any pitcher.”
In five June starts since that debacle in Oakland, Richards has gone 4-0 with a 1.06 earned run average, allowing four runs and 20 hits, striking out 35 and walking 11 in 34 1/3 innings.
The 26-year-old right-hander, who combines a 96-mph fastball -- the highest average velocity in the major leagues -- with a sharp breaking ball, has thrown at least six innings and allowed no more than two runs and four hits in each of his last five starts, the longest such streak in Angels history.
Richards allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings Wednesday night, striking out five and walking five, to improve to 8-2 with a 2.76 ERA on the season.
“He was a little erratic but made pitches when he had to,” Scioscia said. “A lot of pitches, he was just missing with, but his stuff is electric and is going to play. His breaking ball wasn’t as much of a factor, and he was behind on a lot of counts, but the ball was coming out hot with good movement.
“I tell you what, it’s tough not to go out there with confidence with his stuff. If I had his stuff, I’d be confident every night that I could challenge hitters.”
A superb June, combined with several dominant games in April and May, probably solidified a spot on the American League All-Star team for Richards.
“I think he’s going to get it, and he deserves it, but it’s probably the last thing he’s thinking about,” Scioscia said. “It’s nice to be recognized for your performance, but you have to focus on the process, pitch by pitch, start by start. If he continues to pitch like he can, there’s no doubt he’ll get strong consideration for that team.”