Seattle’s Felix Hernandez was no doubt worthy of starting for the AL in this week’s All-Star game.
Despite not being selected, Garrett Richards has pitched like an All-Star for the Los Angeles Angels, especially against the Mariners of late.
With each right-hander sporting an 11-2 record, the host Angels also could debut their new closer while trying for a season-high seventh straight victory Saturday night.
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Hernandez (11-2, 2.12 ERA), who struck out two of the four batters he faced during a scoreless first inning of the AL’s 5-3 win in the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday, enjoyed the most successful pre-All-Star break performance of his stellar 10-year career. He’s gone 7-1 with a 1.48 ERA in his last 11 starts, most recently last Friday when he allowed two runs and struck out nine in eight innings of a 3-2 win over Oakland.
Since the start of the 2009 season, he’s given up two or fewer earned runs in at least seven innings in 109 of 185 starts.
"That is my job," Hernandez, 4-0 with a 2.07 ERA in 10 road starts this season, told MLB’s official website.
He is 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA and 44 strikeouts in his last five starts versus Los Angeles, including 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA this season.
The Angels (58-37), meanwhile, have won eight straight starts by Richards (11-2, 2.55), who is 7-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 63 strikeouts during that stretch.
"Hopefully he’ll pick it right up after the break," manager Mike Scioscia said.
An All-Star snub, Richards allowed five hits and struck out eight in seven innings of a 3-0 win at Texas last Friday.
”It’s some motivation for the whole year,” he said of not making the All-Star team. ”I’ll probably end up carrying that with me the whole year.”
Richards, 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in four starts against the Mariners (51-45), has yielded five hits over 14 1-3 scoreless innings in his last two against them – both at Seattle. He allowed the Mariners’ only hit in seven innings of a 2-0 victory April 9.
He was almost as tough in his only home start versus Seattle, allowing a homer to Michael Saunders, three other hits and striking out eight in seven innings of a 6-1 victory June 5, 2012.
While Richards has been a solid presence in the Angels rotation, they hope All-Star Huston Street will provide some stability in the closer role. Acquired along with a prospect late Friday from San Diego for four minor leaguers, Street had a 1.09 ERA in 33 games and converted 24 of 25 saves chances this season.
”Huston’s 30 years old, and arguably having his best season as a major leaguer,” Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said.
Los Angeles won for the 11th time in 12 games, 3-2 in 16 innings Friday. Pinch-hitter Efren Navarro singled home All-Star game MVP Mike Trout with the winning run for the Angels, who have won 20 of their last 24 overall and 24 of 28 at home.
Trout is batting .368 against the Mariners this season, and .386 (17 for 44) with two doubles, two triples and two homers versus Hernandez.
Josh Hamilton, however, is 3 for his last 22 with 10 strikeouts against him.
Seattle’s Robinson Cano had four hits Friday and is batting .452 (28 for 62) in his last 15 contests. Cano and fellow All-Star Kyle Seager are each hitting .375 against Richards.
Seager went 0 for 7 on Friday, and is 5 for 33 versus Los Angeles in 2014.