He has worst start of his ca­reer, giv­ing up six runs in two-thirds of an in­ning.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike DiGio­vanna mike.digio­vanna@la­ Twit­ter:@MikeDiGio­vanna

NEWYORK— The sur­gi­cally re­paired left knee is fine. The ve­loc­ity of his fast­ball, which sits about 96 mph, is there. The tight spin­ning slider has plenty of bite, and the cut-fast­ball has a nice late break.

There are many phys­i­cal sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the Gar­rett Richards of 2015 and the Richards of 2014, the right-han­der who went 13-4 with a 2.61 earned-run av­er­age and 164 strike­outs in 1682⁄3 in­nings be­fore suf­fer­ing a sea­son-end­ing in­jury in Au­gust.

But some­thing is askew. Some­thing isn’t right. Richards has not been nearly as dom­i­nant as hewas last sea­son, and he’s looked em­i­nently beat­able over his last four starts, in­clud­ing Satur­day night’s quick col­lapse in which he couldn’t get out of the first in­ning of an 8-2 loss to the New York Yan­kees.

“The num­ber of pitches he’s throw­ing be­hind in the count are start­ing to catch up to him a lit­tle bit . . . and the walks are a lit­tle trou­bling,” Man­ager Mike Scios­cia said. “He has to be cleaner, no doubt. Maybe he hasn’t been as locked in as when he got on a roll last year, but it’s still in there. He’s not off by that­much.”

Richards felt fine com­ing out of the bullpen af­ter pregame warmups Satur­day. His de­liv­ery, he said, “felt as good as it’s been all year.” It didn’t show on the Yan­kee Sta­dium mound.

Richards was rocked for six earned runs and five hits in two-thirds of an in­ning, walk­ing two and strik­ing out one. The worst start of the right-han­der’s ca­reer was the pri­mary rea­son the An­gels ex­tended their los­ing streak to four and fell to .500.

Richards is 5-4 with a 4.14 ERA on the sea­son, but he is 2-2 with a 7.91ERAin his last four starts, al­low­ing 17 earned runs and 28 hits, in­clud­ing four homers, strik­ing out 12 and walk­ing nine in191⁄3 in­nings.

The walks are up slightly, the strike­outs are down, and Richards has given up as many homers this sea­son— five — as he did in 2014. The lat­est was a two-run shot by Yan­kees catcher Brian McCann, who sent a laser scream­ing into the right­field seats to high­light the first in­ning Satur­day.

“I’m go­ing through a rough patch, but I’m not go­ing to sit here and make ex­cuses,” Richards said. “It’s base­ball. This is the big leagues. Tonight was one of those nights.”

He had a sim­i­lar night in Oak­land on May 30, 2014, when he gave up five runs and five hits in two-thirds of an in­ning of a 9-5 loss. Richards called it “em­bar­rass­ing,” but he used it as mo­ti­va­tion and went 9-2 with a 1.94 ERA the rest of theway.

“I went on a tear af­ter that,” Richards said. “I can’t hang my head on this. Iknow what I bring to the ta­ble.”

Richards’ trou­ble Satur­day be­gan when he walked Brett Gard­ner to lead off the first. Chase Headley sin­gled, a sharp one-hop­per that sec­ond base­man Johnny Gi­avotella couldn’t han­dle, and Alex Ro­driguez walked to load the bases.

Mark Teix­eira hit a sac­ri­fice fly, Headley scored on a wild pitch, and McCann home­red for a 4-0 lead. Car­los Bel­tran sin­gled and took third on Didi Gre­go­rius’ sin­gle to cen­ter, Gre­go­rius tak­ing sec­ond on the throw.

Stephen Drew grounded to first base­man Al­bert Pu­jols, who looked Bel­tran back to third but by­passed an easy out at first, elect­ing to throw to sec­ond in an at­temptto nail Gre­go­rius, who was off the bag.

Gre­go­rius was ini­tially ruled out, but the call was over­turned by re­play, load­ing the bases. Ra­mon Flores struck out — that would have ended the in­ning had Pu­jols taken the out on Drew’s grounder — and Gard­ner laced a two-run sin­gle to right for a 6-0 lead, knock­ing Richards out of the game.

“He looked home, then to sec­ond, and he thought he had an out there,” Scios­cia said of Pu­jols. “It­was a re­ac­tion play. We just didn’t get it done.”

Adam Hunger Getty Im­ages

ERICK AY­BAR, left, and Mike Trout are un­able to make the play on a dou­ble that was hit by the Yan­kees’ Didi Gre­go­rius dur­ing the fifth in­ning of the An­gels’ 8-2 loss.

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