All of a sudden the Angels have way too much great pitching. On the heels of Ervin Santana's one-hitter, Garrett Richards spun a little magic of his own by shutting out the D'Backs for eight innings before giving way to Ernesto Frieri.
For the Angels, the timing is great. Instead of having to make the awkward decision of figuring out whether or not Richards needs to replace Santana in the rotation, they can now safely keep Ervin where he is but know that Richards, after three strong starts, is waiting in the wings should Santana falter again. Being pitching rich in the rotation is never the kind of problem one complains about.
For Richards, this was just a brilliant display of what he was capable of. He more than atoned for his wildness last time out by throwing first pitch strikes to almost every hitter. From there, he let his stuff do the rest. His slider was sharp, giving him a killer swing-and-miss pitch, and his fastball was strong from start to finish as Garrett was still lighting up the radar gun at 96 mph repeatedly in the eighth inning. That's all he needed. Heck, he never even dusted off his changeup or curve in the game because his four-seamer, two-seamer and slider were all working so well.
And he dominated like this despite struggling with his command at times, and I mean that as a compliment. He walked four and hit a batter in the game, but there were also several pitches where his fastball missed Conger's target by feet, not inches. Yet, he still limited Arizona to no runs on four hits. That is true testament to how dominating his stuff can be when it is working (and perhaps a smaller testament to how futile the Arizona lineup has been at times this year).
Even with as good as Garrett was though, this will be the last we see of him for awhile with Weaver set to return from the DL this next series. But unlike last season, we'll all be eager for Richards to return.