Home Sports Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0

Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0

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			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0		

	
	

	
				
			Pioneering pitcher Garrett Richards survives scare as Angels blank A’s, 5-0

OAKLAND — The grand medical gamble of the Angels’ Garrett Richards appeared like it might have had a quick and disheartening ending against the A’s Wednesday night, but apparently it was a false alarm.

The Angels were well on their way to a 5-0 victory over Oakland at the Coliseum before a crowd of 13,405, but the real story on this night was Richards and his attempt to make some compelling baseball medical history at the expense of A’s and rookie starter Jharel Cotton, who had some good moments — including striking out Mike Trout twice — but ultimately took the defeat due to some unfortunate bad streaks.

Richards, 28, was making his first major-league start since last May 1, when it was determined he had a partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow. It should have been a ticket to Tommy John surgery, but Richards opted to try an risky alternative treatment — stem cell platelet enrichment injections.

Those treatments appeared to have worked as Richards pitched without incident in spring training. And he got off to a roaring start against the A’s — 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball, including 11 hitters in a row retired at one point.

“He’s a guy when the velocity is that high, guys are coming back to the dugout saying the ball’s moving all over the place — it’s cutting, it’s sinking,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “It’s a little like Sonny (Gray) when he’s on, the ball’s so unpredictable with late movement, and when you’re throwing that hard on top of it, he’s a tough customer to deal with.”

But on Richard’s 76th pitch of the night, and an out from being the pitcher of record in the victory, something went awry. Following his first pitch to Oakland leadoff man Matt Joyce with two on and two out in the fifth,  Richards suddenly called manager Mike Scioscia and an Angels team trainer to the mound, and after a brief conference, the pitcher quickly exited the game.

    It appeared that Richards had re-injured the elbow, but the Angels released a subsequent update that the pitcher had merely suffered from cramping in his right bicep and was removed as a precaution. Afterward, Richards said he thought he was OK.

“I was just kind of feeling it on my release,” he said. “It’s something we’re going to keep an eye on. I told them (Scioscia and the trainer) that my bicep was cramping. The elbow felt fine, it was just kind of weird, like someone punched me in the arm.”

The Angels and the baseball world will breathe a hold their collective sigh of relief if that’s the extent of it. A re-injury to the elbow would have been a horrific blow to Richards and pitchers everywhere who are rooting for the Angels right-hander to pull off this experimental quest. It could lead to more of them choosing the stem cell alternative to surgery.

As for Cotton, it was a bit of a weird night. He got off to a terrific start, setting down the first four hitters he faced, including an impressive strikeout of Angels star Trout. But after retiring Albert Pujols to start the second, Cotton lost his bearings. He surrendered five straight baserunners — and three runs — including an RBI double to Andrelton Simmons and a two-run single to Danny Espinosa.

“They were hitting mistake pitches,” Cotton said. “I was leaving the ball up a little bit, but I don’t think they were very hard hits — some broken-bat singles, some flairs. But they strung them together really well and they got some runs out of it.”

Cotton settled down through the third and fourth and had retired seven straight hitters when he struck out Martin Maldonado to start the fifth, but then he hit another bad patch — a walk to Yuniel Esobar followed by consecutive singles by Kole Calhoun, Trout and Pujols. He exited the game having allowed eight hits and five earned runs. He walked two and struck out four.

For his first 2017, anyway, he could at least take away his two big whiffs of Trout, the first time he’s faced the Angels slugger..

“It was awesome, man,” Cotton said. “I always see this guy on TV, he’s a superstar,, so it’s pretty cool. I’m like a little kid when I face these guys, I’m always excited. I struck him out twice, he got me once … it was fun night for me.”

The A’s also got 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief from another newcomer, Frankie Montas, so the evening wasn’t a total loss despite the offense getting just six hits.

Meanwhile, the Angels’ bullpen picked up the slack for Richards with J.C. Alvarez, J.C. Ramirez and  former Giants pitcher Yusmeiro Petit finished off Oakland in the ninth.

 

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