Estrada overcomes illness, delivers effective outing
Righty allows two runs in five innings; Aramis drives in lone Brewers run
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels' best start of the spring came from a guy who isn't slated to be in their rotation.
At least not yet.
Garrett Richards, fighting for a spot on the staff throughout Spring Training, pitched efficiently and effectively through 6 1/3 innings against the Brewers, giving up only one run on three hits in the Angels' 5-1 win at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday.
"I'm figuring it out," Richards said. "I'm pretty happy with where my delivery is right now. Pounding the zone for me is a big thing, and getting ahead of guys, putting guys away. I've been talking with other guys on the team, and early on in spring, even though I had success, I got too much into pitching to contact instead of just letting my stuff work. I'm feeling really confident with my stuff now and we'll see what happens."
Angels starters -- and that includes everyone that has started games, not just the five members of the rotation -- came in with the highest ERA in the Majors, at 8.21.
Richards, who could help in the rotation or bullpen, has a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 Cactus League innings.
Marco Estrada, slated to be the Brewers' No. 2 starter, gave up two runs on two hits and three walks in five innings, leaving him with a 1.88 spring ERA after his penultimate start of the spring.
Estrada was particularly pleased with his outing because he had been dealing with a stomach ailment and body aches the past several days.
"I thought he pitched really well," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We were a little concerned that he was going to give us just an inning or two, and he felt a little so-so down in the bullpen. But once he got into it, he felt pretty good."
Estrada said he had been unable to keep down solid food for the past 2-3 days, including his breakfast on Saturday morning. Those eggs, he lamented, were a poor choice.
"I'm just glad I got out there and got my pitch count up, finally," Estrada said. "It's been kind of low because of scheduling conflicts [related to the World Baseball Classic], but it's good to get out there and finally throw 70-plus pitches. I felt pretty good. I felt like my rhythm was coming back."
The illness, he said, "didn't affect me much once I got out there and the adrenaline got flowing. I forgot about it."
Mike Trout scored on a passed ball and Howie Kendrick hit an RBI triple in the first, giving the Angels an early 2-0 lead. Erick Aybar, who will bat second to start the season, reached base twice, scored a run and executed a sacrifice bunt.
Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, the former Angels prospect acquired in last July's Zack Greinke trade, hit a triple and scored on Aramis Ramirez's RBI double in the fourth.
Up next: Milwaukee plays split-squad games on Sunday at home against the Rockies and on the road at the Padres, both at 3:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Wily Peralta, the team's No. 3 starter, will pitch on the road, but Roenicke will stay home to watch Mark Rogers, a former first-round Draft pick who already lost a bid for a rotation spot and will try to win a bullpen job instead.
Roenicke will be looking for a return of the velocity that has eluded Rogers this spring. Fans can multitask; the home game against Colorado will air exclusively via a brewers.com webcast, and the road game against San Diego will be broadcast on MLB.TV and FS Wisconsin.
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.