ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ten days passed between the game Garrett Richards wanted to forget and the game he pitched Monday night. It was a long time for the Angels right-hander, but in his own way, he was ready when his time came.
Ready to face the Oakland A’s. Ready to make up for the shortest — and worst — start of his big-league career.
After failing to get out of the first inning on May 30 against the A’s, Richards rebounded by pitching seven masterful innings in a 4-1 Angels victory at Angel Stadium.
Bad game forgotten.
"In the back of your mind, you want to do better than you did," he said afterward. "Two-thirds of an inning is pretty weak. But I gave them one that time, and I felt like this time was my turn to come out and show them what I’ve got."
He did, pitching the Angels to their fourth win in a row and fifth in six games after they were swept by the A’s on their recent 3-7 road trip. It was just what Richards and the Angels, who trail Oakland by 3½ games in the American League West, needed.
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"He was in command the whole way," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I thought he showed great stuff, great poise, and it’s a great game for Garrett."
The victory also may have been a relief to closer Ernesto Frieri. After the Angels beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, Frieri boldly said of the series with the A’s: "We’re going to beat them — get ready to write that down."
Frieri came in to pitch the ninth inning Monday night, working a fourth consecutive day for the first time in his career. But he struck out the heart of the A’s order — Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes — with his mid-90s fastball to back up his brash statement.
Then he apologized for possibly offending the A’s.
"I was just trying to show some confidence in the team that we have," he said. "That was it. Last time we played them, obviously we didn’t play the baseball we know we can play. We got swept over there. I was just trying to express myself and say we were going to beat them."
We’re going to beat them — get ready to write that down
-- Angels closer Ernesto Frieri on Sunday
And they did, behind Richards, who beat the A’s for the first time in seven career starts, and despite some controversy in the fifth.
It came on what appeared to be a two-run homer by Mike Trout off A’s starter Jesse Chavez. His fly ball to left field, which looked to be over the yellow line signifying a homer, was knocked back onto the field by a fan wearing a glove.
First-base umpire Bob Davidson signaled a home run, A’s manager Bob Melvin lodged a challenge, and officials in New York upheld it, reducing Trout’s shot to a double.
Scioscia argued and was ejected.
"I don’t know how they overturned the home run," Scioscia said. "If they called it a double, I could see how there’s little argument to say they couldn’t tell. That ball was over the yellow line when it hit that guy’s glove. There’s no doubt. So I don’t know what they saw in New York.
"That’s part of the frustration that I have with this whole system is the fact there’s no way that’s indisputable evidence that that ball was not a home run. No way."
In the end, it didn’t really matter. Richards redeemed himself after giving up five runs in two-thirds of an inning the previous time he faced the A’s. This time, he was more aggressive with hitters, and it paid off.
"Last time I was nibbling," he said. "I can’t really explain it, I was just nibbling.
"That comes back to being aggressive and not nibbling — filling up the zone, getting ahead in counts and putting guys away when you need to."