Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim haven't done much losing the past few weeks. But the loss they suffered on Wednesday could be the one that costs them a deep run in October.
American League Cy Young Award candidate Garrett Richards had to be stretchered off the field due to a left knee injury with two outs in the second inning in the Angels' win over the Boston Red Sox and will likely be lost for the season.
Richards was running to cover first base on a ground ball hit by Boston's Brock Holt when his knee buckled underneath him and he fell to the dirt. He was in obvious pain on the field for several minutes, attended by team medical staff, then was taken away on a stretcher.
He came into the start 13-4 on the year with a 2.53 earned run average, 164 strikeouts in 167 innings and a .195 opponents' average, tied with Seattle's Felix Hernandez for the lowest in the league.
Richards was just hitting his stride too with a 1.79 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 14 starts since June 4.
"When I saw him go down, I got sick to my stomach," said center fielder Mike Trout, Richards' roommate since the minor leagues. "It didn't look good. He was in tears. I feel terrible. When I talked to him (in the clubhouse), he was devastated."
Following the contest, though, Halos manager Mike Scioscia simply stated that the injury is "significant" without elaborating. Early reports, though, have indicated that it could be a patellar tendon injury which would require surgery and at least a six-month recovery period.
"It doesn't look too good for him," Angels ace Jered Weaver told his team's website. "He's been our guy all year. He's been that guy you count on to get deep in games and pull out a victory. To have something like that happen is obviously a crushing blow to any team. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, and hopefully it doesn't turn out as bad as everyone thinks it is."
The Angels managed to win the contest anyway and in the process moved 25 games over .500, while maintaining their 1 1/2-game edge over the Oakland Athletics in the AL West.
Now, on the eve of a crucial three-game series with the A's looming, the Angels starting staff is in limbo, even more so since lefty Tyler Skaggs was lost to season-ending Tommy John surgery back on Aug. 13.
Of course there is Weaver, but at 31, he's hardly the dominant pitcher he has been in the past. And he's followed by C.J. Wilson, Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker.
Not the ideal rotation for a team planning on a deep playoff run.
For arguments sake let's say the Angels don't win the division and are forced to play a one-game playoff. Ideally, the Angels would have Weaver pitch such a game, but where would that leave them going forward?
A healthy Richards changes that scenario. A lot. And there's not much help in the minors either, unless you want to count on former big league castoffs in lefties Wade LeBlanc and Randy Wolf and right-hander Chris Volstad.
Now the Angels have to pick up the pieces and get ready for a visit to Oakland. This weekend's series marks the first of 10 games remaining between the two.
Buckle in. It's going to be a wild September.