By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — After he was roughed up by the Toronto Blue Jays last week, there was very little faith that Garrett Richards could add much to the Red Sox rotation this season. But he was adamant that his struggles from last Wednesday at Fenway Park were all fixable, and that he would be better the next time he toed the rubber.READ MORE: Patriots Are Home Underdogs Four Times In 2021 Season
To his credit, the righty backed up those words in a big way Tuesday night against the Mets. It was a complete 180 from last week, as Richards tossed a seven-inning gem in New York, allowing just one run while striking out 10 to earn his first win as a member of the Red Sox. Most impressive was his control, as Richards issued no free passes during the 2-1 Boston victory.
After his best outing of the season, Richards said that he spent the last week working with pitching coach Dave Bush on simplifying his mechanics and delivery. That work paid off Tuesday night.
“Me and Bushy over the last few days have really been working on simplifying my delivery to help me put myself in a better position to throw the baseball,” Richards explained. “Before I was working a little bit side to side, which was throwing off my release point and causing me to kind of add extra effort in some places in my delivery that were throwing me off. So we just kind of came up with something that would be simple for me to be able to repeat and, more importantly, gives me a chance to gather over the rubber instead of just rolling through it like I was.”
You can see the change here:
Pretty significant mechanical change for Garrett Richards. Working more out of the stretch, a lot less movement while throwing towards the plate. pic.twitter.com/9wgrRh4J6g
— joon 이준엽 (@joonlee) April 27, 2021
It was clear from the jump that we’d be seeing a different Richards on the mound on Tuesday. He opened his outing with a 1-2-3- inning, getting Pete Alonso swinging at a slider for the inning’s final out. It was one of three 1-2-3 innings for Richards in the outing.READ MORE: Kevin Pillar Suffers Multiple Nasal Fractures After Taking Fastball To Face
Richards was wild and had trouble placing any of his pitches against the Blue Jays last week, walking six batters in just 4.2 innings, but he had control of his full arsenal on Tuesday. Three of his punchouts ended with Mets batters flailing at his slider. He said it was the first time this season that he really had a feel for that pitch, and it helped with his curve and fastball.
“With the work that we’ve done in my delivery, it’s allowed me to get both my breaking pitches and my fastball back in the zone. And that’s kind of always what it’s ever been, just me being in the zone,” he said. “I’m not necessarily a guy who spots the ball, but I am in the zone, my stuff is kind of moving all over the place.”
Richards threw 70 of his 93 pitches for strikes on Tuesday night. He started 20 of the 26 batters that he faced with a strike. His only blemish of the game was a solo homer by second baseman Jeff McNeil in the second inning.
Richards also struck out the side in that second inning. He did it again in the fourth inning, stranding a pair of runners after allowing a double and a single after getting the first two outs of the frame.
But his most impressive inning of the outing was his last. Alex Cora felt confident enough to send Richards out for the seventh inning, and the righty rewarded his skipper with another clean frame. Richards got McNeil and James McCann to ground out to start the inning, and finished his night by punching out pinch hitter Brandon Nimmo.
When asked what Richards had working for him on Tuesday, Cora had a simple answer: “Everything.”
“It was under control on the mound. Good fastball. Good curveball. Good slider. This is the guy we envisioned,” added Cora. “You know stuff-wise, he’s one of the best in the league. And if he can repeat his delivery, stay under control, we know that he can do this every five days. He can be really good, give us a quality start and give us a chance to win.”
Richards now has a win with the Red Sox and a lot more confidence leading into his next start. Not that confidence is something he’s ever short on, but this is that good confidence that can help a pitcher get on a roll.MORE NEWS: First Place On The Line As Red Sox Visit Blue Jays (In Florida)
“I know that I haven’t been pitching great as of late, but I’ve been putting in good work and we’ve been seeing improvements. To see some positive results from the work we put in was reassuring and helps me move forward with some confidence,” said Richards. “Not that I wasn’t confident before, but results help confidence.”