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Richards carted off field after serious knee injury

Angels may lose top pitcher for rest of season as club awaits further evaluation

BOSTON -- Jered Weaver could hear Garrett Richards' scream from the dugout.

The Angels' young starting pitcher was lying on the ground near first base at Fenway Park early in Wednesday's game, clutching his left knee and lying in agony for nearly 10 minutes before being lifted onto a stretcher. The Angels won't say anything definitive, but Richards' stellar 2014 season looks finished, just as his team makes a final push for the American League West crown.

"It doesn't look too good for him," Weaver said. "He's been our guy all year. He's been that guy you count on to get deep in games and pull out a victory. To have something like that happen is obviously a crushing blow to any team. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, and hopefully it doesn't turn out as bad as everyone thinks it is."

As of midnight ET on Wednesday, the Angels at least know it's a "significant injury." That's the term Angels manager Mike Scioscia repeatedly used when asked specific questions about Richards' left knee after his team's bittersweet 8-3 win over the Red Sox.

Asked if it was safe to assume Richards won't pitch again this season, Scioscia responded, "I'm not going to assume anything, but it's a significant injury."

Richards was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and will spend the night in the team hotel before flying to Los Angeles on Thursday morning for further evaluation.

"Until we get the results, I can't really say much," Trout said, "but it doesn't look good."

With one out, runners on the corners and the Red Sox leading, 2-0, in the bottom of the second, Brock Holt hit a grounder to the right side that Albert Pujols fielded and fired to shortstop Erick Aybar at second. Richards came over for the potential inning-ending double play, but collapsed just before reaching the bag and was on the ground for about eight minutes.

All of the Angels' starters surrounded Richards, with Pujols momentarily holding his hand and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz coming out to show his support as they lifted the 26-year-old right-hander onto the stretcher, a moment that drew a standing ovation from Red Sox fans in attendance.

"I hated to see that," Ortiz added. "I went over and said to him, 'Hang in there.' That guy was having a great season, too. Terrible to see."

Losing Richards is about as big as it gets for the Angels, who currently have a 1 1/2-game cushion on the best record in the Majors but are suddenly in dire straits with their starting rotation.

Tyler Skaggs, the 23-year-old left-hander who showed plenty of promise this season, has already been lost due to the Tommy John surgery that will knock him out until the start of the 2016 season. And now the Angels will have to reach into a thin Minor League system that's lacking in starting-pitching depth. Triple-A starters Wade LeBlanc (4.00 ERA in 21 starts), Randy Wolf (4.94 ERA in five starts) and Chris Volstad (5.45 ERA in six starts) are options, as is Michael Roth, who is 10-6 with a 2.82 ERA in 20 starts for Double-A Arkansas and is on the same pitching schedule as Richards.

Barring general manager Jerry Dipoto pulling a rabbit out of his hat in the August waiver period, it'll be up to Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago to pick up the slack the rest of the way.

"Things like this happen," Weaver said. "You just have to come together and try to push on through. We have a great team. Everyone will rally around and use it for motivation to get through the season."

Richards entered Wednesday's start 13-4 with a 2.53 ERA, numbers that made him a candidate for the AL's Cy Young Award in his first full season in a Major League rotation. He had racked up 164 strikeouts in 167 innings, was tied with Felix Hernandez for the AL lead in batting average against and carried a 1.79 ERA since June 4.

"Seeing him go down, it just shows you that at any moment anything can happen," Angels cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton said.

"Our heart goes out to him," catcher Chris Iannetta added. "We know how much this run meant to him and how much the season has meant to him. He's been great for us the whole year."

Trout, Richards' longtime roommate, said he was "sick to my stomach" when he saw his good friend go down. Trout was the designated hitter on Wednesday, which allowed him to go to the clubhouse between innings to console Richards.

When he got there, Richards was in tears.

"When the doctor came in and told him he might have done something to his patella tendon and surgery might be involved, he kind of lost it," Weaver said. "He's a competitor. He wants to be out there day in and day out."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.
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