While I didn't actually see the game yesterday, I had one of those feelings as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, just sitting there at the office. So it's not surprising that tonight Mark Gubicza fell back on one his favorite stock phrases—"building confidence in the bullpen"—more than once. I'm not sure what his suggestion for "building confidence in the bullpen" was in the end. Sometimes listening to the man explain an idea is like clawing through a giant box filled with packing peanuts, looking for whatever it is you just ordered from Amazon before you finally remember that you actually did order a giant box filled with packing peanuts. So here's my theory instead. Build confidence in your bullpen by not creating situations that your bullpen can lose. Let me make it even easier. Score a lot more runs than you allow to the other team to do, preferably in the first 6 innings or so.
And that's exactly what happened tonight. Garrett Richards had another one of those "effectively wild" starts, with the emphasis on "effective" this time. He struck out 7 batters and got 7 ground-outs to 4 fly-outs, even though 3 walks and a couple of wild pitches really increased his workload, despite allowing just 4 hits. That's kind of his style, though, and it's a good style, just not very efficient tonight. He did throw 73 strikes out of 119 pitches, so I guess the Rangers hit a ton of foul balls.
Fortunately the lineup gave him a 7-1 lead by the fifth inning. I miss Joe Saunders; he pitched some memorable games as an Angel. Maybe I'm callous but tonight I was glad to see him in a Rangers uniform instead. Cron hit a solo homer in the 3rd, but all the other runs came in a pair of 3-run innings in which nothing especially dramatic happened. Just some singles, walks, and an error at one point. In other words, the kind of messes I remember from Joe Saunders, except that they usually seemed to end with a miraculous double-play before they got too out of hand.
So now I'm confident in the bullpen. Mike Morin gives up a homer in the 7th? No problem. Cory Rasmus starts a fire in the 8th before recording an out? Well, there's probably room for one big inning, so long as Ernesto stays on the bench for the 9th. Fortunately Jepsen ends it with only another run scored. And then Joe Smith, toiling in obscurity, once again shows that he's the best the Angels have for now.
Oakland beat Boston after the Red Sox came back to tie that game, so the Angels make up no ground tonight. It does feel good to see Texas wallowing at 35-38 for the time being.