ANAHEIM, Calif. — One big inning deserves another. Three was the magic number at Angel Stadium Thursday night.
The Angels put up three against the Max Scherzer in the bottom of the fifth. The Tigers then answered with three runs of their own against Garrett Richards in the top of the sixth to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 6-4 win.
Richards for the first time in a long time wasn’t sharp. His brain tells him to go back to May 30 at Oakland to the last time he didn’t feel as crisp on the mound. Since then, he won seven straight decisions entering Thursday night.
His velocity was present on Thursday evening. Location, on the other hand, was a different story.
Nick Castellanos drove a Richards fastball left up in the zone to left field to score two runs and put the Tigers ahead, 4-3, in the top of the sixth inning.
Castellanos’ two-run double was the fourth consecutive hit for the Tigers off Richards to start the inning. The sixth and final inning for the Angels starter was a rough one.
"I was just up in the zone (on Thursday)," Richards said. "The ball wasn’t really cutting or sinking like it usually does. My slider was more, kind of, rolling in there than breaking in there.
"They put together a solid sixth inning so, nothing much you can do about it."
What a difference a year makes.
This time last year he was bouncing back and forth from Anaheim to Salt Lake City. Richards as a full-time starter this season is having the type of year where it’s become commonplace to expect his stuff be electric every time he takes the mound. Thursday wasn’t the case and it just wasn’t his night as he tried to go pitch-for-pitch against Scherzer, who went seven innings, giving up three earned runs and striking out 11.
The results weren’t what he was hoping to attain but there were valuable lessons he’ll take away from the start.
"I probably could have gone in more tonight," Richards said. "I probably could have moved people’s feet a little bit more tonight.
"I’ll take the positives from this one and move on."
Once all was said and done, Richards lasted six innings, allowing seven hits, four runs, walked two, and struck out five. Despite being reminded of Oakland, Thursday’s start was a far cry from that May start in which he didn’t make it out of the first inning, giving up five runs.
"This outing was a little bit better than Oakland’s outing," Richards said. "So, things could be worse."