The second contest of a three-game set against Seattle pitted Richards against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who started the All-Star Game for the American League. Richards lost out to the White Sox’s Chris Sale for the AL’s final roster spot.
Richards, who has emerged this season as a gem in the Angels rotation after posting a 4.42 ERA over parts of three previous seasons in the majors, didn’t look overmatched against the Mariners’ established and undeniable ace.
Neither starter recorded a decision, but both pitched well deep into the game.
Hernandez plowed through seven innings with few blemishes. The Angels’ only run with Hernandez on the mound was unearned, and he tossed nine strikeouts while allowing only two hits.
Richards struck out seven and gave up three hits in his eight innings of work.
Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley broke up Richards’ perfect game with a lead-off double in the sixth, and the Mariners eked out a run in the inning when Ackley scored on a single from catcher Jesus Sucre. But the Mariners didn’t score again off Richards.
When Richards made his last start before the All-Star break in Texas, he said he wouldn’t forget not making the All-Star team.
“I’ll probably end up carrying that the whole year, to be honest with you,” Richards said then. “It might be some motivation for the whole season.”
He remembered that feeling during his effort against the Mariners, he said after Saturday’s game.
“It is what it is,” he said of the All-Star snub. “There’s nothing you can do about it now. [I’m] just going to go out every five days and try to win a ballgame.”
Richards and Hernandez have been two of the AL’s best pitchers this season.
On Saturday, Hernandez extended to 12 straight starts his streak of pitching at least seven innings and allowing fewer than two runs. He tied the AL record set in 1907 by Philadelphia Athletics Hall of Famer Chief Bender. Heading into Saturday’s action, Hernandez led the AL in ERA with a 2.12 mark.
"Remember, he [Felix] pitched on short rest, but he was sharp as always," Angels first baseman Albert Pujols said. "He's a warrior. He’s going to go out there and give you everything he’s got, and that’s what you’re going to get."
Richards was fourth in the AL with a 2.55 ERA and the leader with a .196 batting average against. He is 7-0 in his last nine starts.
“We had two guys pitching extremely well,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “And Garrett got us through eight innings, was perfect through five, so good job for him.”
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