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Richmond gives Jays another big effort


Richmond gives Jays another big effort
Two seasons ago, Gil Meche spurned the Blue Jays in favour of a five-year, $55 million (U.S.) contract with the Kansas City Royals.

At that same time, Jays starter Scott Richmond was negotiating for yet another turn with the independent Edmonton Trappers.

Where's the true value?

Last night's 8-1 Jays' victory, with Richmond outpitching Meche, proved perhaps money can't buy scrappiness.

The 29-year-old rookie Richmond (3-0) pitched seven strong innings in an 8-1 win. It was his longest career outing in his ninth major-league start. Meche was forced to leave in the fourth inning with low-back tightness that will be re-evaluated today.

The Jays' offence that had taken the night off on Monday rebounded with 14 hits, led by Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells with three hits apiece. Wells had three RBIs.

The Jays banged out four doubles to maintain the AL lead in two-base hits with 54.

Richmond, from North Vancouver, gradually has been improving his mental approach with each start.

"He keeps us in the game," manager Cito Gaston said. "That's what we're looking for. Every time he goes out, it's back to that Bobby Mattick thing, 'Which came first, the confidence or the success?' He's had some success lately, so I know he has to be feeling good about himself and he should be. It's good to see."

The Jays opened the scoring in the second inning. Wells led off with a double and went to third on a Scott Rolen single to left. Lyle Overbay sliced a foul ball down the left field line and, with one out, David DeJesus caught it leaning into the stands and fired home as Wells tagged up. The throw took one hop, striking Wells in the middle of the back as he slid safely across.

If DeJesus had let the ball drop in foul territory, the run wouldn't have scored, but Overbay would have had new life with two strikes. It's a delicate balance, but early in the game, the Royals traded an out for a run.

The early innings were punctuated by outstanding defensive plays on both sides. In the first inning, Mark Teahen grounded sharply to the hole at second base. Aaron Hill slid, fielded and spun to his feet, throwing him out at first. DeJesus, who had been on first, flew around second base and an alert Overbay gunned him down for a double-play.

In the Jays' third, with Hill on first base, Coco Crisp raced back to the fence just to the right of centre field and snared a Wells flyball just as he crashed into the wall, saving a run. Lind grounded out to end the inning.

In the third inning, Richmond helped his own cause with the glove. With runners on first and second, DeJesus laid down a bunt on the third base side. The pitcher raced in, spun and fired to Rolen, nipping the runner. Manager Trey Hillman argued.

The Jays eventually broke through for four runs in the fourth inning. Back-to-back doubles by Overbay and Rod Barajas gave them a 2-0 lead. Overbay's double over the bag at first was picked up by the batboy down the line and handed to a fan for a ground-rule double. Barajas lashed his fifth double over the left fielder's head.

The Jays scored three more that inning. Aaron Hill lined an RBI-single over second base. He had his 11-game hitting streak broken on Monday night and started a new one. Wells grounded a bases-loaded single into centre field for a 5-0 lead.

The Royals finally broke through in the fifth. Crisp scored from first base on a double by DeJesus over the head of Alex Rios in right.

The ball was hit straight at him and he froze before heading back.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 29, 2009

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