If the Arkansas Travelers wanted to send their manager out the door with a win, Garrett Richards was the prime choice to take the mound.
Richards allowed three hits over seven innings for his seventh straight victory Friday as the Double-A Travelers blanked the visiting Northwest Arkansas Naturals, 3-0.
The Angels prospect's sterling performance also delivered one more "W" for Arkansas manager Bill Mosiello, who resigned earlier in the day to became an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee. Just three days ago, Mosiello and Co. secured the Texas League North Division first-half title.
"Obviously, we knew this was Mos' last game," Richards said. "He would just want us to come out and play hard, execute and obviously get a win."
That's all Richards (9-1), who leads the Texas League in wins, seems capable of these days. The only other Minor Leaguer with nine victories is Triple-A Indianapolis' Justin Wilson (9-4), who strung together six straight wins earlier this season.
Richards last lost on May 4 at Tulsa. In nine starts since, he is 7-0 with a 2.22 ERA, lowering his season mark to 3.30.
"It all goes to the team, really," he said. "I wouldn't have those victories if we didn't play good defense and hit the ball. I just go out to try to give us a chance to win, and the guys take care of the rest."
Richards' best previous winning streak stood at three. Twice in 2010 -- once each at Class A Cedar Rapids and Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga -- he was on the right side of three consecutive decisions.
"This is the longest streak I have ever had," he said. "Things are going good right now."
The 23-year-old right-hander said his roll continued Friday due to the simple things -- throwing quality strikes in the lower half of the zone.
Richards, among the Angels' top pitching prospects since he was the 42nd overall pick in the 2009 Draft, allowed three hits, issued one walk and sat down seven on strikes. He threw 95 pitches.
In between allowing Wil Myers' first-inning double and walking him in the fourth, Richards retired eight straight Naturals. Myers, MLB.com's preseason No. 16 prospect, seemed to be only batter to give him pause.
Richards fanned the catcher-turned-outfielder on three pitches in the sixth.
"I don't change my approach for who enters the box," he said. "It's really my best stuff against theirs. I try to win that battle every night."
Richards has increased control of his own fate in the win column, going at least six innings in a dozen straight starts. He leads the Texas League with 92 2/3 innings pitched after logging 143 across two levels in 2010, his first full season.
Richards' relief was equally impressive. David Carpenter and Ryan Brasier pitched a perfect eighth and ninth inning, respectively. Brasier earned his 13th save, six behind San Antonio's Brad Brach for the league lead.
Teammate Mike Trout, MLB.com's No. 1 prospect, went 2-for-4 and plated the Travelers' second run with a fifth-inning single off Naturals starter Zach Miner (1-3).