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Short stint for rookie Richmond vs. Yankees

Short stint for rookie Richmond vs. Yankees
In the moments following last night's 8-2 loss to the New York Yankees, most Toronto Blue Jays hadn't even hit the showers, but starting pitcher Scott Richmond was already fully dressed in jeans and a polo shirt, awaiting questions.

The 29-year-old Canadian rookie took the ball in a big game and then handed it over to manager Cito Gaston after a short night. The shortest of his young career.

Richmond lasted only 12/3 innings while giving up five hits, two walks and five earned runs. The American League's April rookie of the month took his second consecutive loss in May.

Asked what the problem has been, he gave a straightforward answer.

"Fastball location," he said. "Plain and simple."

With his fastball hitting the corners of the plate and moving low through the strike zone, Richmond earned four wins in April. He entered last night's game with a 3.29 ERA and 29 strikeouts, good for second on the team. His early season control had earned praise from Gaston, a manager who detests walks and who asks only that his young pitchers give the team a chance to win.

But without his best control last night, he couldn't even survive the second inning.

The right-hander looked strong early, striking out Yankees leadoff hitter Johnny Damon with a slider in the dirt, then fanning Nick Swisher on a 91-m.p.h. fastball.

But a leadoff double by Melky Cabrera disrupted Richmond's second-inning rhythm. Brett Gardner followed with a home run that cleared the right-field fence where it meets the foul pole.

Shortstop Ramiro Pena batted next and tripled. Two hitters later, Damon tripled to right, finally prompting some action in the Blue Jays' bullpen. But by the time right-hander Brian Wolfe relieved Richmond, first baseman Mark Teixeira had already belted New York's fifth extra-base hit of the inning.

"I feel pretty good every outing going out there," Richmond said. "You pitch once every five days, so I'm making sure I'm taking advantage of my opportunities. Today wasn't one of those days."

Richmond said the Yankees tagged him whenever he delivered fastballs too near the centre of the plate and Gaston agreed he hadn't achieved his April success with shoddy control.

"He's really struggling with location and he has to have location," Gaston said. "He certainly hasn't pitched like that (earlier this season)."

Richmond, who earned the final spot in the starting rotation during the final week of spring training, said his strong performance in April doesn't soothe the sting of games like last night. Instead, he said he's eager to regain his early momentum and parlay that into even stronger play.

"I have positive starts behind me, but I can't live off the past," he said. "I have to build off each one now and grow as a pitcher and build on to the next outing."

Gaston, meanwhile, said he would react to last night's thumping the same way he reacted to Tuesday night's 5-1 win: by focusing on the next game.

"We'll turn the page and come out here tomorrow and deal with CC Sabathia," he said.

Richmond wasn't the only Blue Jay to leave the game early.

Second baseman Aaron Hill fouled a ball off his left shin in the third inning and departed in the fifth. John McDonald had a single in three at-bats as Hill's fill-in.

Hill, who went 0-for-2 last night, entered last night leading the major leagues with 55 hits. After the game, he moved gingerly around his locker but said he expects to play tonight.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 14, 2009

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