Without support, consistent righty allows two runs over 7 2/3 strong innings
By Andrew Simon
BALTIMORE -- When the Orioles' Travis Snider hit a dribbler to the right side leading off Sunday's bottom of the eighth inning, Garrett Richards got off the mound, chased the slowly hit ball, scooped it up and stepped on first base himself for the out.
It was a good sign for a pitcher whose 2014 season ended with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, sustained while covering first base last Aug. 20. Neither the knee nor anything else has been holding Richards back lately, which was evident as he authored another fine outing in the Angels' 3-0 loss on Sunday afternoon.
"No issues whatsoever," Richards said of the play at first. "I felt good. Kind of felt good to take one on your own and execute a play. That's something I'm getting more and more comfortable with. Honestly, breaking off the mound, I don't think about anything, so it's good."
Richards took the loss against the Orioles, but it was of the tough-luck variety, as he allowed two runs on five hits over 7 2/3 innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts. In three May outings, he has allowed four runs and struck out 22 over 21 1/3 innings.
"I felt good," Richards said. "I felt like I got better as the game went on, attacking the zone, trying to work ahead, keep guys off balance."
Some bad luck put Richards behind, 1-0, in the fourth inning. With one out, Adam Jones hit a dribbler to third base for an infield single. Following a Delmon Young single and a strikeout, the Orioles had runners at the corners with two outs when Richards bounced a slider to Steve Pearce that catcher Carlos Perez couldn't corral, allowing Jones to score.
Wild pitches have been an issue for Richards, who led the league with 22 last year and now has six this season. But because of the violent, late break Richards gets on his pitches, he believes it "comes with the territory."
"It's something I would love to cut down on, obviously, but we're all human and that's going to happen from time to time," Richards said. "I've got to do my best to keep the ball in front of the plate, I guess, but still attack with the same aggressiveness. I'm not going to get timid out there."
Richards didn't think he was getting tired despite the warm afternoon, but after he gave up a two-out single in the eighth, manager Mike Scioscia removed him. Reliever Mike Morin then allowed the inherited runner to score, snapping Richards' streak of starts with one run allowed at three.
"Garrett pitched his heart out," Scioscia said. "It was really humid out there. I think Garrett started to fatigue a little bit in the seventh. We thought he had enough to get through the eighth, but it just got to be where we thought we were stretching him a little bit."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.