ARLINGTON, Texas -- For all the good that Garrett Richards demonstrated in his two months in the Angels rotation, his season ended with a thud.
Richards gave up six runs -- only three earned -- in 41/3 innings in the Angels' 7-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday afternoon. He's allowed 10 earned runs in nine innings in his final two starts, both losses.
"This isn't the way I wanted to end the season," Richards said, "but I learned a lot this year. I made some big strides this year. I'm going to carry it on into next year."
Despite the poor finish, Richards posted a 3.73 ERA in 13 starts after joining the rotation in late July. He said one of the biggest changes has been his ability to maintain his composure on the mound.
The Angels provided him plenty of practice Saturday, as they made three errors while he was on the mound. In addition, Richards made an error when he made a bad throw to first after he'd been hit by a comebacker.
"I've had some games where I've had to battle out of jams," Richards said. "It's something I'm feeling more comfortable with, batting through adversity. That's a positive on the year as well. It's only going to get better."
While Richards could still take solace in the big picture, Manager Mike Scioscia was disappointed with how his team played on defense. The five errors, including one after Richards was gone, were the team's most since Sept. 16, 2006.
"You can't sugarcoat the way we played defense," Scioscia said. "It was brutal. And just silly mistakes."
Joe Blanton's season went from bad to worse to invisible.
In the time since he last pitched, on Sept. 3, Blanton believes he's discovered what went so wrong for the first four months.
Blanton said his work on the side has helped him come up with a mechanical adjustment that has improved his consistency, although so far he's only been able to test it out in the bullpen since he hasn't been in game.
"I can tell a big difference, just playing catch," Blanton said. "Before, the ball wasn't coming (out right), even playing catch. I couldn't figure it out."
Blanton said a change in the positioning of his front shoulder has helped him get the ball down in the strike zone more consistently. He said he plans to throw more than usual over the winter so he can try to keep his delivery where it is now until next season.
"It's disappointing that it took that long, but hopefully I figured something out," Blanton said. "I'm not going into the offseason still trying to figure out what's going on."
General Manager Jerry Dipoto said this week he plans to bring Blanton back next spring and give him an opportunity to re-establish himself. Blanton, who is finishing the first year of a two-year, $15 million deal, lost his rotation spot in late July and has barely pitched since.
He has a 6.04 ERA, which is by far the worst of his career. With eight full seasons under his belt before this year, Blanton had a career 4.37 ERA.
"If you look at basically my other eight years of work, I think it does look like a fluke," Blanton said. "Some of my numbers were still OK. I was giving up a lot of hits and the homers were up, but the strikeouts and walks were about normal. That leads me to believe my stuff was still good. The mechanical adjustments I made will allow me to repeat better pitches over and over and the mistakes won't be as bad. I'll have a little deception."
For all of Blanton's failures on the field, Scioscia has consistently praised him for the way he handled his demotion to the bullpen and lack of work lately. Blanton is routinely on the field conditioning and throwing before games.
"For me it was a matter of trying to stay as positive as possible," Blanton said. "It was hard. I'm definitely not going to lie about that. But I just came in every day and kept getting my work in all areas, as far as flexibility and strength and conditioning. I was just trying to play good quality games of catch every day."
By beating the Angels, the Rangers moved into a tie for one of the wild-card spots heading into the final day of the season. The Rangers have their fate in their hands. If they win Sunday, the worst they could do is force a play-in game -- or two -- for the postseason. ...
Erick Aybar had three doubles, the second time this season an Angel had three doubles in a game. Mark Trumbo did it Sept. 10. ...
Mike Trout's two sacrifice flies gave him 96 RBI. ...
The Angels have lost three in a row and lost a series for the first time since the Cleveland Indians swept them Aug. 19-21. The Angels had been unbeaten in 10 consecutive series. ...
The game was moved from 7 p.m. local time to 11 a.m. to avoid bad weather that was in the forecast. A heavy downpour hit as the Angels were batting in the ninth.
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