Garrett Richards is certainly making the most of his first season as a full-time member of the Los Angeles Angels' starting rotation.
After allowing two total runs in his first four starts in June, Richards will try to help the Angels match a season high with their fifth consecutive victory Wednesday night and hand the Minnesota Twins a seventh straight road defeat.
Richards (7-2, 2.79 ERA) went 9-9 with a 4.37 ERA in 29 starts while spending most of his previous three seasons in the bullpen for Los Angeles (42-33). In the rotation from the beginning this year, Richards has posted by far the best ERA of any Angels starter and has been more consistent than proven teammates Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
''They gave me the job right out of spring training,'' said Richards, whose .206 opponent batting average is the lowest in the AL. ''I don't have to worry about going up and down. I don't have to worry about pitching in Triple-A."
The right-hander went 0-2 with a 7.98 ERA in his final three starts of May, but has posted a 0.67 ERA in 27 innings this month, striking out 30 and holding opponents to a .163 average while going 3-0. Richards gave up a run, four hits and struck out seven in six innings of a 7-3 win over Texas on Friday.
''Where he is right now, his confidence, hopefully it's going to keep him at this level for a long time," manager Mike Scioscia said.
Richards threw a scoreless inning of relief against the Twins (36-39) last season, but will face them as a starter for the first time.
Mike Trout hit a two-run homer and Josh Hamilton added two hits with two RBIs on Tuesday for Los Angeles, which blew a 5-0 first-inning lead before winning 8-6. The Angels are 4-0 on a six-game stay at Anaheim, where they've won 13 of 15.
Trout is batting .384 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in his last 27 games, and .388 in 14 career contests versus Minnesota.
Hitting .388 in 13 home games this season, Hamilton is batting .344 with 12 RBIs in his last eight against the Twins.
Ex-Angel Kendrys Morales homered and had two RBIs while Brian Dozier added three hits for Minnesota, which was coming off a four-game home sweep of the Chicago White Sox. The Twins last dropped seven straight on the road as part of an 11-game slide Sept. 3-24, 2011.
Dozier is 9 for 17 in five games since going 0 for 13 in his previous four. He's batting .333 in nine career contests versus Los Angeles.
Minnesota's 30-year-old Yohan Pino allowed two runs and struck out seven in seven innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox in his major league debut Thursday. In the minors for 10 seasons, the right-hander retired 12 of his final 13 batters.
''His presence on the mound was like he's actually been up here doing this for a long time,'' Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki said.