Royals-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Angels' Garrett Richards was superb his last time out following a brief stint in the minors.

Will Smith also returned to the majors last week, though his start didn't go nearly as well.

Richards takes the mound opposite Smith on Tuesday night as the Angels continue a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals, losers of a season-worst four straight on the road.

After going 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA over his first four starts with the Angels in 2012, Richards was hit hard in each of his next two, allowing a combined 17 runs - 12 earned - over 8 2-3 innings.

Richards (3-1, 3.53 ERA) was sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake on July 6 but recalled last Tuesday to face Detroit. Aside from issuing four walks, the 24-year-old right-hander was terrific in a 13-0 road win, allowing three hits over seven strong innings.

"(Last Tuesday) was one of those special nights," Richards told his team's official website. "I had everything working. I had the curveball, slider was good, glove-side fastball was good, and my sinker was on tonight. When you put all those together and you command the zone, you're going to have a good night."

Richards will do his best to help the Angels (53-44) build on Monday's 6-3 victory.

Pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales came through with a two-out, three-run single in the eighth inning, leading Los Angeles to just its fourth win in its last 13 matchups with Kansas City. Alberto Callaspo, who spent two-plus seasons with the Royals from 2008-10, started the rally with a single.

Morales entered Monday in the midst of a 6-for-36 slump, including seven strikeouts in his previous 10 at-bats.

"I think there's still some upside to Kendrys," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he's getting comfortable. He's been through a stretch this month where he's just lost his comfort zone. ... Hopefully this can start to get him back to where he is. We need him swinging the bat."

The Royals (40-55) have dropped 16 of 21 overall - including nine of 11 in opponents' ballparks while compiling a 6.40 ERA.

They now turn to Smith (1-3, 7.97), who was drafted by the Angels in 2008 but shipped to Kansas City on July 22, 2010, as part of the Callaspo deal.

Smith was originally called up May 22, going 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA over his first three big league starts. The left-hander was sent down June 5 but recalled Thursday to start against Seattle.

He gave up four runs, eight hits and two walks over a season-high 6 1-3 innings during a 6-1 loss.

"I was able to slow the game down this time," Smith told the Royals' official website. "Last time I was up here, the game was going so fast for me. I was able to take some deep breaths before my pitches and execute."

While the performance left plenty to be desired, manager Ned Yost saw some improvement from the 23-year-old Smith.

"He commanded the ball much better," Yost said. "He kept the ball down, changed speeds really well, didn't make near as many mistakes over the course of the game ... He did a nice job of keeping us in the game, going deep in the game, giving us a chance."

Los Angeles has won 12 of its last 13 games against left-handed starters, including Monday's game, started by Bruce Chen.

Angels rookie sensation Mike Trout went 2 for 5 and extended his franchise-record streak with a run scored to 15 games - three shy of the AL mark set by New York's Red Rolfe in 1939.

What to Read Next