In June 2014, Garrett Richards threw a perfect inning, striking out three Astros on nine pitches – all strikes.
Only he didn’t realize it.
“After the game, the beat writers are coming up to me and asking me about it,” the Angels pitcher recalled on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “To be honest with you, I didn’t even know that I had done it until after the game. I think it was just kind of something that worked out, but it’s definitely something that’s cool. So I’m glad I could be a part of that.”
In truth, Richards could probably say that about all of last season – except the ending of it. After going 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 164 strikeouts in 168 and 2/3 innings, Richards tore the patella tendon in his left knee while trying to cover first base against the Red Sox in Boston.
“It just was kind of a surprise,” Richards said. “All of a sudden, it exploded on me. It was kind of a shock. That was my first serious injury in my life. It was something I had never gone through before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Obviously going through the rehab process this offseason, I just try and put as much hard work in as I possibly could and try to make it back as early in the season as I could. Slowly but surely, everything is starting to feel normal again and I’m starting to be able to get back to doing some good things that I did last year.”
Richards, 27, is 10-7 with a 3.25 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He is 23-11 in his last 44 starts – this after going 11-13 in the first 29 starts of his career.
“I think that’s just part of developing as a starting pitcher,” Richards said. “You’re going to take some good things, you’re going to take some bad things from every outing. You’re going to use them to your advantage and kind of spin them in a way to where you can apply them to your next start and hopefully improve your overall performance. Just figuring out what guys are gonna do with runners in scoring position, figuring out where guys’ holes are, reading swings, getting ahead of guys, getting that first strike over, and then working your 1-1 counts – trying to stay ahead in the count and trying to keep guys off-balanced.”
The Angels (55-43) have been on a tear since before the All-Star break and lead the Astros (55-45) by one game in the AL West. They also acquired Shane Victorino from Boston to help them down the stretch and improve their playoff chances.
Might Los Angeles make more moves before the deadline?
“I just work here, man,” Richards said, laughing. “We added Shane and I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. Obviously he comes with a ton of experience and he knows how to win. He’s won a World Series before and he’s a veteran player. There’s plenty of good things that could said about him. We’re excited to have him and hopefully he gets us over that hump to get to our ultimate goal of winning the division and working our way into the playoffs.”