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News » Blue Jays-Athletics Preview 2009-05-08

Blue Jays-Athletics Preview 2009-05-08

Blue Jays-Athletics Preview 2009-05-08
Unheralded Scott Richmond has proved to be critical to the Toronto Blue Jays as they've managed to overcome an injury-plagued starting rotation.

The 29-year-old rookie looks to improve to 5-0 on Friday night when the AL-East leading Blue Jays open a three-game road set against the Oakland Athletics.

Since winning the fifth starter's spot in spring training, Richmond (4-0, 2.67 ERA) has more than exceeded expectations in his first full season. He's combined with ace Roy Halladay to bring stability to a rotation that's been hit hard by injuries to talented young pitchers Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero.

Richmond allowed two earned runs while striking out six in seven innings of a 4-3 victory at Baltimore on Sunday.

"Right now (Richmond) is pitching nowhere near like a No. 5 starter," catcher Rod Barajas said of the AL rookie of the month for April. "He's our No. 2 guy. The way he's stepped up, the way he's pitched for us, it's something that we desperately needed."

Two years removed from the independent Northern League, the right-hander hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 10 major league starts.

"I'm happy I'm contributing, I'm happy I'm pitching well," Richmond said. "I'm so focused out there. We're doing so great. I've got to do my job."

Richmond gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-3 victory over Oakland on Aug. 5, his only previous appearance versus the A's.

The Blue Jays (20-11) are looking to bounce back after falling 6-1 to Los Angeles on Thursday.

Aaron Hill hit his eighth home run for Toronto, which scored 23 runs in its previous two games against Cleveland and Los Angeles before losing for the second time in seven contests. The Blue Jays lead the majors with 190 runs.

Hill is batting .362 on the season and is 6 for 16 (.375) with four RBIs in his last four games versus Oakland.

The Blue Jays seek a third straight victory over the A's after taking two of three at home from April 17-19.

"Oakland - you never know what to expect," manager Cito Gaston told the Blue Jays' official Web site.

The A's (10-16) posted their highest run total of the season in a 9-4 victory over Texas on Thursday, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Jack Cust hit a grand slam and Matt Holliday added a three-run shot for Oakland, which is last in the AL with 112 runs. Cust is 6 for 12 in his last three games, but went 2 for 12 with five strikeouts against Toronto last month.

Though he's batting .233, Holliday has hit all four of his home runs in his last eight games.

"I feel like it's coming along pretty good," Holliday told the A's official Web site about his swing. "The last couple days I felt pretty good."

Josh Outman (0-0, 4.41) makes his fourth start for Oakland. He allowed two runs and struck out five in six innings of an 8-7, 15-inning loss at Seattle on Sunday.

In his only outing versus the Blue Jays, the left-hander allowed three earned runs while walking four and striking out five in four innings of an 8-5 loss April 17.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 8, 2009

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