Richards' stellar start cut short by pitch count

Working his way back from injury, Angels righty throws 85 pitches in 6 shutout innings

Richards' stellar start cut short by pitch count

HOUSTON -- Garrett Richards is the present and future of the Angels' rotation. So manager Mike Scioscia isn't going to go overboard at this point on the right-hander's innings, no matter how outstanding he's pitching.

That was evident on Friday. Richards, making only his fourth start since returning from the disabled list, allowed only one hit and received a no-decision in the Angels' 3-0 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park. The loss dropped the Angels 3 1/2 games behind the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Richards pitched six scoreless innings and struck out six with only one walk. He went toe-to-toe with Justin Verlander, who allowed just a single to Kole Calhoun leading off the game over seven innings.

"Verlander was good, too. I just tried to match him," Richards said. "It's not like we were facing an average Joe over there. That guy has plenty of accolades for his time in the big leagues. Any time you go against a guy like that, you have to be on your game.

"I just tried to be efficient. That's my No. 1 goal right now."

The only hit Richards allowed was a first-inning double by Josh Reddick.

"Garrett was tremendous," Scioscia said. "Obviously, his line score is terrific, but from an execution point of view, he made his pitches. He pitched efficient, pitched effective and really shut down a good lineup for six innings."

Scioscia on Richards' start

Richards, who has missed significant time over the past two seasons due to a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in 2016 and then a right biceps strain this year, is being limited on his pitches. He threw 85 pitches, 51 for strikes on Friday.

"He might have had a couple of pitches left, but you don't want to find out on the back side that it was a little too much," Scioscia said. "One of the things you want to monitor is how they come out of their outing."

Richards, like most pitchers, said he would like to have continued pitching a little longer.

"I always want more," said Richards, who has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his last 15 starts dating to Sept. 19, 2015. "I felt good at the end. Definitely felt I could keep going.

"Hopefully, next time I can get 100 pitches in and eat up some more innings."

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.