Are things really turning around for the Los Angeles Angels?
The team certainly had a whole lot to feel happy about after a dramatic 5-4 come-from-behind walkoff victory over the Houston Astros: it snapped a five-game downward spiral that threatened to be six, the Angels finally got something out of Josh Hamilton‘s bat, and Albert Pujols did the Albert Pujols thing and provided the late-game heroics.
Yet, lost in all of those celebratory moments was that well … they’re celebrating a victory over the Astros.
Those are the baby steps that this expensive 3-8 juggernaut have to take these days, and in fact, they were only one out away from losing their second-straight game to this team.
It shouldn’t be that way, not if this team is going to move forward and be a division contender.
No, to do that, they’re going to have to go back to doing what the Angels in the 2000s were (largely) good at — pitching, and if there was anything positive to be taken from tonight, it’s Garrett Richards‘ performance on the mound as a starter.
Yes, I know, what’s special about a starter who gave up four runs and put his team behind, right? The crooked line score numbers don’t look pretty, but look a little closer, and you might see something different.
Perhaps you’ll see that Richards was a ground-ball machine (11-3 GO-AO) who retired his first nine batters in order, and that this was someone who only gave up three hits all night, and needed just 86 pitches to get through his 6.1 IP, even though he ran out of gas at the end.
Oh, and the third and fourth runs? Both inherited by reliever Sean Burnett, who couldn’t get the job done.
Outside of the bases-loaded situation that he left the bullpen with, Richards was in control most of the night, with a Chris Carter two-run homer (what else is new?) being the only major blemish on his outing. He was efficient, pitched to contact, and more importantly, he pitched into the seventh inning — farther than where all of the other Angels starters have gone thus far in 2013.
Considering Jered Weaver‘s absence, and well, if things are really going to start turning around for this team, it’ll be because of more outings like that.