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Richmond's hot hand, Rios's hot bat help sweep O's


Richmond's hot hand, Rios's hot bat help sweep O's
In pitching seven strong innings and collecting his fourth win yesterday, Jays right-hander Scott Richmond continues to exceed expectations.

And with a home run, a double and two runs yesterday, right fielder Alex Rios is finally living up to them.

Combined, the two players helped lift the Blue Jays to a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Toronto's 18-9 record matches their best-ever start after 27 games, and it gave them their first series sweep of the season.

In seven innings Richmond allowed just two runs, walking two batters and striking out six.

After leaving spring training as the club's fifth starter, a combination of injuries (both Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero remain on the disabled list) and vastly improved play have transformed Richmond into the club's second-most reliable starter behind Roy Halladay.

Manager Cito Gaston cites Richmond's improved accuracy and willingness to throw breaking balls and changeups for his success.

Richmond, 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA, says it's an improved attitude and team spirit, saying his confidence is "100 times better" than in spring training.

The Jays would also love to see Rios sustain his hot hitting. A career .288 hitter, Rios has struggled early this season. He entered yesterday's game hitting .255 but at one point in April his average had dipped to .207.

But despite the April slump Gaston said he never considered moving Rios from the third spot in the batting order.

"Moving him out of that spot is not going to help him," Gaston said before yesterday's game. "I don't want him to ever think that we've given up on him. In order for us to win he's going to have to hit."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 4, 2009

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