When Jered Weaver went down with a back injury in May, Richards took over, and the Angels didn't miss a beat. And when Jerome Williams had respiratory problems following his start on June 18, the rookie's stint in the Majors was extended.
In five appearances (four starts) since his callup, the right-hander has given up just five earned runs in 27 2/3 innings (1.63 ERA), while striking out 22. He pitched well against the Dodgers his last time out, surrendering three runs in 6 2/3 innings, despite not being at his best. He's making the Angels' option of sending him to the bullpen or back to the Minors very difficult.
Richards will get the his first start at Rogers Centre on Saturday, but he made two relief appearances there last season. He'll be opposed by another your hurler in the Blue Jays' Henderson Alvarez, as both clubs enter the day with hot offenses. The clubs split the first two games of a four-game set.
Richards, who is a ground-ball pitcher, said that as long as he has his good sinker and slider, he should be fine in the hitter-friendly park.
"With what I've seen so far, the ball hasn't really picked up much on the infield, and it gives true hops on the dirt, so I'm not going to change my approach," Richards said. "I'm going to go out and do my thing, and whatever happens, happens."
Unlike Richards, who has been dealing, Alvarez is coming off a start in which he surrendered five runs (three earned) in five innings against the Red Sox. He was forced to leave the outing because of soreness in his right elbow but has no restrictions on Saturday.
In 15 starts this season, Alvarez (4-6) has a 4.36 ERA, with 21 walks and 29 strikeouts.
Blue Jays: Home runs aplenty, doubles scarce
The Blue Jays rank second in the Majors with 113 home runs, but they finished their game on Friday ranked 28th in baseball with 111 doubles. They are the only team in the Majors with more homers than doubles.
Manager John Farrell said it's just a matter of the Blue Jays having more home run hitters than doubles hitters, and it's not as if he's going to tell his guys to quit hitting the long ball.
"We've got guys that can drive the ball out of the ballpark, that's the type of hitters that they are," Farrell said. "We don't necessarily go in and try to revamp someone and tell them, 'Try to hit more doubles than home runs.' That is the strength of our guys. It boils down to runs scored. How you get there is dependent on the strengths of the roster."
Jamie Moyer earned the win in his first start at Triple-A Las Vegas after lasting five innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits. All the runs the 49-year-old gave up came off home runs in the first two innings, yet Farrell said the start was encouraging.
"He's a very unique pitcher, there is no doubt about that," Farrell said. "He has a wealth of knowledge and experience to tap into, and we will see where this goes."
Angels: Iannetta feeling better
Catcher Chris Iannetta, who has been on the disabled list since May 9 while recovering from right wrist surgery, said his forearm "feels great."
He has been shut down from his throwing program twice, but a recent contrast MRI showed nothing besides a strain and some inflammation. He will restart his throwing program in the next few days, with the intention of going on a rehab assignment soon.
Williams is scheduled to throw around 75 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday. The righty will make at least two rehab appearances before being activated.
The Angels' loss on Friday was just their second in their last nine and only their second loss in their last 16 games on the road.
The Blue Jays snapped their three-game losing streak on Friday, however, they have allowed fewer than five runs just twice in their last 12 games.