For the first two innings it looked like it might be a pitcher’s duel on another cold night in Kauffman Stadium. Garrett Richards and Jakob Junis both had their good stuff working; Junis’ slider, in particular, looked nasty. Unfortunately, Junis lost his ability to prevent home runs in the third inning. Luis Valbuena took him deep to right field to lead off the inning, Justin Upton went yard to left to lead off the fourth inning, and Mike Trout blasted his own bomb with a runner on and two out in the fifth inning to chase Junis from the game.
Garrett Richards, for his part, didn’t allow a base runner through the first four innings; but when things went bad in the fifth they went bad in a hurry. He walked Lucas Duda to start the inning, then threw a wild pitch to Jorge Soler to advance Duda to second. After Soler grounded out Paulo Orlando singled into right to put runners at the corners. Richards proceeded to bury pitch after pitch until one finally got by Rene Rivera and allowed Duda to score and sent Paulo, who went to second on a previous wild pitch in the same at-bat, to third.
Ryan Goins worked a walk but that brought up Alcides Escobar. His walk rate might be up, temporarily, but FS1 broadcasters Justin Kutcher and Mark Gubicza noted how aggressive Escobar was known to be. Garrett Richards, who had walked 12 in 15 innings prior to tonight, who had literally thrown 3 wild pitches to the previous 3 batters, who had walked the previous batter, and who could have thrown even more wild pitches had Rivera not been dancing around behind home plate, was released from his self-imposed jam when Escobar swung at the very first pitch and grounded into a double play.
Just to add insult to injury Drew Butera walked to lead off the sixth and Richards went to the showers.
The Angels added a fifth run in the sixth inning with Brian Flynn still pitching thanks in large part to Soler dropping a routine flyball that hit the pocket of his glove before bouncing out. Soler helped get the run back with a single in the seventh inning which allowed Butera to eventually drive him home.
If you’re looking for bright spots I can offer you two: Mike Moustakas destroyed a baseball into the right field corner despite the snow that started in the middle innings and was near white-out levels by the time of his eighth inning at-bat. Burch Smith also pitched a pair of scoreless innings allowing a single hit while striking out three to close out the game.
Junis took the loss after allowing 4 runs in 4.2 innings while striking out 7 and raised his ERA to 1.93. Richards took his second win and Keynan Middleton collected his fourth save of the season in the Angels’ seventh win in a row. The Royals will complete the 4-game series tomorrow hoping to avoid the sweep against Shohei Ohtani. Eric Skoglund will take the mound for the Royals.