Considered to be very confident by his manager, Garrett Richards has even more reason to feel good about himself after the first shutout of his career.
His Los Angeles Angels are scuffling at the plate during their second four-game losing streak of the year, but that could change since they face Clay Buchholz next.
Richards will make his first start against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night opposite Buchholz, who enters after yielding his most runs in consecutive outings.
Richards (12-4, 2.58 ERA) bounced back from two straight losses in a big way Monday by striking out nine Los Angeles Dodgers and allowing five hits in a 5-0 road victory. He threw a career-high 122 pitches in his first nine-inning complete game.
"He is driven," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Garrett wants to be good. He has a lot of confidence in what he can do."
The right-hander has made four career relief appearances against the Red Sox, giving up five runs in 5 1-3 innings. He's most familiar with recent Boston newcomer Yoenis Cespedes, who is 5 for 16 off him - 3 for 7 with two doubles this year for Oakland.
Richards is third in the majors in opponent batting average at .195 - .173 since the start of June for baseball's second-best mark behind Seattle's Felix Hernandez.
Los Angeles (67-48) is seeking to avoid its first five-game slide after totaling four runs over its last 33 innings, falling 4-2 in Friday's opener of this three-game set.
The Angels could break out against Buchholz (5-7, 6.20), who has surrendered seven runs in each of his last two outings although he escaped without a decision in Sunday's 8-7 loss to the New York Yankees. He has a 10.13 ERA in his last three starts.
"It's been a frustrating year for everyone in here," Buchholz said. "We don't want to go out there and wear a Red Sox uniform and perform the way I am. I need to pick it up during the season."
The right-hander is 6-3 with a 4.54 ERA in 11 career starts against the Angels, including one in the postseason.
Los Angeles has received a total of three RBIs during this losing streak from stars Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Pujols is 4 for 8 off Buchholz and Trout is 3 for 9 with each going deep once and this also could be a favorable matchup for Howie Kendrick, who is 7 for 21 with a homer versus the Boston starter.
Trout is in a 0-for-12 slide and trying to avoid going hitless in a fourth straight start for the first time in his career. He was robbed of a hit in the eighth inning Friday by speedy center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Boston (51-64) has an opportunity to capture a series after losing its previous five. Mike Napoli homered against former batterymate Jered Weaver and Cespedes hit a two-run double Friday as the Red Sox evened their mark at 2-2 on this eight-game trip.
The Angels are second in the majors with 4.7 runs per game while the Red Sox are last in the AL at 3.8.