Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

July 7, 2014

Former Sooner dominant as Angels shut down Houston

MLB capsules: Royals, Rangers, Cardinals all lose series finales

ANAHEIM, Calif. — There was a lot of grumbling in the Los Angeles Angels' clubhouse following Garrett Richards' latest strong performance.

Richards, a former standout at the University of Oklahoma, won his sixth decision in seven starts and had a career-high 11 strikeouts Sunday, leading the surging Angels to a 6-1 victory over the Houston Astros and completing a four-game sweep that extended Los Angeles' home winning streak to 10 games.

But when the pitchers and reserves for the AL All-Star team were announced after the game, Richards' name wasn't among them. He could still get the final spot on the squad through fan voting on the Internet.

"It's a little disappointing," Richards said. "There's still a chance, and it's an honor just to be considered. If it happens, it happens. But I'm more concerned with the second half of the season, to be honest. I'll take a World Series over an All-Star game any day."

Richards (10-2) allowed six hits over 7 1-3 innings, including an RBI single by Carlos Corporan in the seventh. The right-hander has a 1.45 ERA in his last seven outings and has allowed no more than four hits in six of them.

"It's the same thing I've been doing all year — getting ahead of hitters with the fastball and breaking ball, putting guys away with two strikes, throwing quality strikes and just attacking guys," Richards said. "I'm happy with the work I've put in so far, but the season's only halfway over. I've had a pretty good first half. But more importantly, we're playing good baseball as a team right now."

Richards' strikeout total was the highest by an Angels pitcher since June 18 last season, when Joe Blanton fanned 11 in a no-decision against Seattle at Anaheim.

"I think the sky's the limit for Garrett," pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "You look at the stuff, and he's got undeniable stuff — a mid-90s fastball that cuts and sinks, a power slider that has great depth to it, good action and commands it in the zone very well. He's got one of the better curveballs in the game and a changeup that is still developing — but he's getting a feel for that, too."

Albert Pujols drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single and Kole Calhoun homered, helping the Angels go 15 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 2012 season at 89-73. They swept a four-game set at home for the first time since July 2011 against Seattle and are 21-3 at the "Big A" since May 17 — their best 24-game stretch at home in franchise history.

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