OAKLAND -- Saturday's game offered yet another crushing blow to the Angels' faint postseason hopes.
For Garrett Richards, though, it may have been a steppingstone.
Making his first start since April 30 -- a span in which he didn't go more than 3 2/3 innings or top 63 pitches -- Richards shut out the A's through five innings, giving up three hits and two walks in a 78-pitch, four-strikeout outing.
"As the game went on, Garrett's command started to appear," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who used replaced starter Joe Blanton for a 1-2-3 eighth inning. "He had really good life on his fastball, a good breaking ball and definitely gave us a chance to win. He started off a little fuzzy, trying to find his release point, but once he did, he pitched a fine game."
In three previous stints in the Angels' rotation -- toward the end of 2011, in the middle of '12 and in late April of '13 -- Richards has compiled a 4.92 ERA in 16 starts. His focus this time around is to "keep things simple, try not to overthrow and fill up the zone in the bottom half."
His arm, Richards said, "felt fine" through the fifth inning of an outing he knew wouldn't top 80 pitches.
"I've learned different things as I've gone along, and I'm starting to put stuff together and feeling more comfortable in my delivery, more consistent, which is something I've really been working towards," Richards said. "That's only going to help me fill up the zone more and be more successful."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.