ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Clayton Richard did exactly what Padres manager Andy Green hoped he would do Thursday when he was given an opportunity to pitch against a Rangers club that has been one of baseball's worst against lefties.Because of the potentially favorable platoon splits, and because a rainout last weekend
ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Clayton Richard did exactly what Padres manager Andy Green hoped he would do Thursday when he was given an opportunity to pitch against a Rangers club that has been one of baseball's worst against lefties.
Because of the potentially favorable platoon splits, and because a rainout last weekend gave him some flexibility with the rotation, Green moved Richard up a day to face the Rangers instead of the White Sox on Friday as originally scheduled. Everything went according to, or perhaps even better than, the plan -- except what happened after Richard left the game in an eventual 5-2 loss.
"The matchup played well for us today. We didn't get enough runs to overcome the loss, but more or less, Clayton was outstanding on the mound today," Green said.
Richard pitched seven scoreless innings to start the game and did not allow a Rangers runner past first base in those frames.
"We had good at-bats against the left-hander, we just didn't muster much," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Clayton Richard threw the ball well."
Richard finally erred with the first pitch of the eighth inning, a hanging slider that Mike Napoli deposited just behind the seats in the left-field porch.
"I showed him quite a few [sliders] his first couple at-bats and then it was not a very good pitch," Richard said. "First pitch, you're trying to throw it for a strike, but it was elevated, not a ton of action. He's a good enough hitter when you throw a pitch like that, he's going to do damage on it."
Richard left after the next batter singled, but the Rangers didn't score again in the eighth.
Unfortunately for Richard and the Padres, Texas scored four runs off closer Brandon Maurer in the ninth, including three on Napoli's mammoth walk-off homer to the second deck in left field.
Still, Richard's performance was the kind that would win more games than it would lose.
"He threw the ball really well, literally one mistake all day to Napoli," Green said. "The rest of the day, lights out. His sinker was working well. He pitched exactly how he wanted to, gave us every opportunity to win the baseball game. I felt really good about his effort today."
Richard's effort also represented a step forward after some recent difficulties. He threw eight shutout innings in his first outing of the season, but in six starts since then, he compiled a 6.06 ERA due in large part to 15 walks in 32 2/3 innings. Opponents hit .338 off him during that stretch.
In Richard's previous start, he walked six and gave up five earned runs. He said after Thursday's strong outing that his goal was to attack the strike zone more than he had in recent starts.
"That was a conscious effort on our side the other day and it was a plan of action going into today and I did well with it," Richard said.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Padres on Thursday.