Angels first baseman Albert Pujols adjusts his batting gloves during a… (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)
Tempe, Ariz. — Albert Pujols walked and doubled to left-center field, and Jorge Cantu singled twice and drove in two runs to lead the Angels to a 6-2 exhibition victory over the Chicago White Sox in Tempe Diablo Stadium on Tuesday.
Much like Monday's win over Oakland, when the Angels bunched nine runs and 11 hits in four innings, the Angels scored all six of their runs and had nine of their 10 hits in the first four innings against the White Sox.
Three right-handers competing for the fifth rotation spot -- Garrett Richards, Eric Hurley and Trevor Bell -- pitched for the Angels.
Richards started and allowed two runs and four hits in two innings, striking out one and walking one during a somewhat laborious 39-pitch stint.
"My fastball command was good, I threw a couple of good sliders, and a couple of changeups felt good out of my hand," Richards said. "It was a good foundation to build off of."
Richards is the organization's top pitching prospect, a 23-year-old who got a taste of the big leagues last season when he was called up from double-A in August and went 0-2 with a 5.79 earned-run average in seven games, three of them starts.
His major league debut came on Aug. 10 in Yankee Stadium, where he was tagged for six runs and six hits, including two Curtis Granderson home runs, in five innings of a 9-3 loss.
"At the time, it didn't even feel real to me," Richards said. "But after doing that, it kind of sets in. You're like, 'Wow, that was a big game you pitched.' "
Richards has the best pure stuff of the candidates for the fifth spot: a fastball that sits in the 93-mph range and touches 95 mph, a tight slider and a changeup.
"There's no doubt that of all the guys we're talking about for the fifth spot, his arm is the one that jumps out at you," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But it takes more than that to get major league hitters out."
Richards has fine-tuned his repertoire, essentially eliminating his overhand curve and focusing on his fastball, slider and changeup. He is also trying to heed an "Angels organizational philosophy" to "try to draw contact within three pitches."
That helped Richards rely less on strikeouts and more on early count, ground-ball outs.
Richards was followed on the mound by Hurley, the former Texas Rangers prospect who threw two scoreless innings, allowing one hit, striking out two and walking two.
Reliever Kevin Jepsen, attempting to return from surgery on his right knee, struck out two and allowed a single in a scoreless fifth, and Bell threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits.