ANAHEIM, California: For the fourth time in five games, the Angels went quietly into the night on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), stymied by left-hander Cole Hamels in a 4-1 defeat at Angel Stadium.
The Angels have been outscored by 20 runs through five games, 29-9.
For six innings Saturday night, Hamels, the Texas Rangers’ ace, outdueled Garrett Richards, the man the Angels need to be their ace. Hamels struck out four and did not give up an extra-base hit.
Richards, the 27-year-old right-hander, worked 62/3 innings in his second start of the season after an opening-day loss to the Chicago Cubs. He was good, if again short of dominant, striking out six while walking one and yielding eight hits. He was charged with four runs, two of which were earned.
Quickly, he gave up a run, when the game’s first batter, Delino DeShields, doubled and scored on a Prince Fielder single. Richards induced a double play from Adrian Beltre to end that inning, then was beaten by Beltre for a home run leading off the fourth inning.
Another run would have scored later in the inning but for Andrelton Simmons’ superb arm from shortstop. He picked off Craig Gentry’s throw from left field on a Ryan Rua double, spun and delivered a low-lying strike to home in time for Carlos Perez to tag out Elvis Andrus.
That was contrasted with a sloppy seventh inning for the Angels, when, for the third time this season, Yunel Escobar threw errantly after Andrus led off by tapping a ball to him at third base. Then, when Andrus was on second, Richards attempted to pick him off, and Johnny Giavotella missed the throw.
Andrus scored when the Rangers’ Bryan Holaday drove a ball that landed on the left-field foul line for a double. That forced Richards out of the game, and reliever Jose Alvarez gave up a single to Rougned Odor that scored Holaday for a fourth run.
The Angels scored their run in the first inning. Escobar singled up the middle, Craig Gentry walked, and Mike Trout grounded them both over a base. Albert Pujols followed with a groundout that allowed Escobar to score.
The Angels connected on consecutive one-out singles in the sixth inning, setting the table for Trout and Pujols to come through. But they could not: Trout patted a ball harmlessly to third base for an out, and Pujols popped out to first. There were no more veritable threats, only a one-out double from Trout in the ninth that left him stranded at second when the game ended.
The Angels have held a lead for only one inning out of the 45 they have played this season. They have only eight extra-base hits in five games.
No, they have not played well. And, on Sunday afternoon, the Angels will send out Jered Weaver, in what will be one of the more intriguing debuts of this season. After a spring training in which he struggled with minor league hitters and nerve tightness, Weaver will attempt to stymie a talented Texas lineup.
Richards has had success against Texas in the past. Memorably, one weekend morning last April, he received a $300 invoice from Beltre after breaking three of his bats in a seven-inning, three-hit win the previous night.
He did not break any of Beltre’s bats Saturday night. Twice, he did strike out Ian Desmond in assertive fashion — four straight fastballs away, and then a slider further out and lower. Desmond swung through the slider each time.
The third time they matched up, in the sixth inning, Richards skipped with the pretense and threw his slider straight away. Desmond slammed it 390 feet to center field, where Trout caught it a few feet short of the wall.