Garrett Richards chucked the ball, put both of his hands on his head, and slumped to the dirt. He knew right away his throw to second base would not reach its intended target and the consequences of his mistake would be significant.
This season, that sort of error has often doomed the Angels. But on this day, Richards' teammates banded together to provide him a rare reprieve, scoring eight runs without a Texas Rangers response in a 9-6 getaway-day victory at Globe Life Park.
"They bailed me out," Richards said. "I made a mistake, but these guys swung the bats and put up runs. You couldn't ask for more out of this team."
With the score tied, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth, Adrian Beltre led off with a walk, and Richards induced what appeared to be a factory-designed double-play ball from Prince Fielder. It came right back to the mound, and Richards picked it up, turned around and fired far to the right of second base.
At first, he wasn't sure whether he had the ball in his glove. Picking it up was purely instinctual. When he realized he did, he said, he did not take enough time to get set.
The lapse put runners on the corners. Next up, Ian Desmond shot a single to center, scoring Beltre. Richards then served up a massive drive to Mitch Moreland, but it landed foul, and Richards rebounded to strike him out.
Elvis Andrus followed with a single to load the bases with one out for Bryan Holaday, who struck out on three pitches. But No. 9 hitter Delino DeShields notched a single to score two more, all of which were unearned.
Richards retired Rougned Odor to end the inning, and then his day was done, after just 79 pitches. Manager Mike Scioscia said Richards was cramping up because of dehydration during the fourth; Richards said it was Scioscia's choice to remove him. He had lasted at least five innings in 27 consecutive starts.
In Sunday's second inning, Richards yielded back-to-back doubles to Desmond and Moreland, allowing the Rangers to take the lead. In the Angels' half of the third, new left fielder Shane Robinson rapped a single to center, and Cliff Pennington bunted him to second base.
After Yunel Escobar made out, Kole Calhoun, batting second for the first time this season, came through with a line-drive single to right to score Robinson.
It was the Angels' first run Sunday, and their third hit in 19 at-bats with runners in scoring position during this series. They had three more such hits Sunday — and two additional successful conversions.
Four men reached base at least three times for the Angels: Robinson, Escobar, Calhoun and C.J. Cron. They reached base on 11 occasions against Rangers ace Cole Hamels and 20 times in total, setting a season high.
"The guys had a lot of energy," Scioscia said.
The Angels loaded the bases with one out for Mike Trout in the fifth. He grounded out, scoring a run, and then Albert Pujols walked to again fill the bases. Cron delivered a two-run single to right.
In the sixth, after Robinson tapped an infield single and scampered to third on a Pennington single, Yunel Escobar drove a ball deep to center for a sacrifice fly.
That permanently pushed them ahead, but the Angels added three runs in the eighth inning and another in the ninth, on a Geovany Soto solo home run, four singles, a walk, and a double from Trout that snapped his 0-for-8 streak. Amid all that, Escobar forgot there were two outs and failed to take off running from second on a bloop single.
It temporarily cost the Angels a run, but Trout's double expunged his error, just as five Angel relievers collaborated to annul Richards'. Rookie left-hander Greg Mahle handled the fifth inning, earned the first win of his career, and saved some ticket stubs for his parents.