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Richmond's turning into a clutch performer

Richmond's turning into a clutch performer
Right-handed starter Scott Richmond, like the Blue Jays , has defied the odds so far this season.

Toronto entered last night's game against the L.A. Angels at 19-10 - the second-best record in the majors next to the Dodgers. A large part of that success comes on the strength of Richmond's 4-0 record and 2.67 ERA.

Just as important is the fact Richmond - who was in a dogfight in spring training just to make the rotation - has emerged as a key contributor through the club's injury woes.

"It was tough going on a daily basis just to make this team out of spring training, but my goal was to prove they made the right decision," Richmond said. "I take my season in five-game increments now. The first five were okay, now you try to do better in the second five."

The Jays have six pitchers injured, some of them out for the season. Toronto's expectations for its starting staff were already watered down with the losses of Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan, the projected second and third starters behind Roy Halladay, who started here last night.

The fill-in plan was also jolted by injuries to Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero. That left the team to summon a parade of minor-leaguers to bridge the gap until later this month, when at least three of the injured starters (Romero, Litsch and Casey Janssen) are expected back.

Lefty David Purcey - the No. 2 man in the rotation - never righted himself from a spate of wildness to open the season. He was returned to Triple-A Las Vegas last week, leaving Richmond and Halladay as the lone survivors in the rotation that broke with the team from spring training.

Richmond's performance may have come as a surprise to some fans, but not to Jays manager Cito Gaston.

"I'm not surprised. Last year he kept us close in games, and this year he's throwing his breaking ball over the plate in fastball counts. He's getting his changeup over, too. You have to be able to throw off-speed pitches when you're behind in the count, and Scott's been good with that."

Richmond's long path to the big leagues began with a stint at Missouri Valley College. He then moved to Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana, before transferring to Oklahoma State, where he earned honourable mention as a Big 12 Conference all-star.

That was in 2005, but he was 25 years old by then. He was overlooked in the major league draft, and left Oklahoma with a degree in economics, but no potential path to the majors.

He never stopped dreaming the big-league dream, and made a contact in Moose Jaw, Sask., to join a wooden bat league because he felt it would help him gain attention from scouts in the U.S.

Richmond was named Canadian rookie pitcher of the year in Moose Jaw and that helped him land a spot with the Edmonton Cracker Cats on the Independent Golden Baseball League in 2005. After three seasons there, the Jays signed him Nov. 20, 2007.

"My numbers in independent ball were never that impressive, but up here, we have great coaches and great catchers, so there's no reason I can't do it."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 7, 2009

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