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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Garrett Richards makes it work without the sticky stuff as the Red Sox top Blue Jays, 7-4

It doesn’t sound pretty, but Garrett Richards has found a way to keep his career alive.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has not paid Richards’ $10 million annual salary to anyone in 2021, and Richards is largely disappointed. But after announcing his career after MLB introduced new rules banning foreign substances from pitcher’s mounds, Richards has figured something out.

He looked stronger on Wednesday night using more of his slider and cutter, in contrast to the curveballs that worked so well for him before MLB’s ban, and it helped the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-4. It was enough to win over. .

Richards had allowed just one run in sixth place as he entered the innings with a 5-1 lead. But he hung a fastball to George Springer and a slider to Teoscar Hernandez for a pair of back-to-back homers, which cut the Sox’s lead to 5-4.

The Sox responded in the eighth with back-to-back homers by JD Martinez and Hunter Renfro to make it easier for the bullpen to finish.

Richards has quietly won his last two starts. He has gone in at least five innings out of four in a row. And while he’s not flying a hitter like a month ago, when his ’90s fastball and wipeout-breaking balls were spinning like never before, he’s done enough to earn his spot in the rotation.

On Wednesday, there was a huge drop in his spin rate again. His slider was down 207 revolutions per minute compared to his season average, his fastball was down 300 rpm and his curveball was down 401 rpm, a massive drop. But manager Alex Cora isn’t worried.

“Garrett is making adjustments,” Cora said on Wednesday. “They keep paying. As far as his stuff is concerned, we got the numbers and yes, he has a low spin rate, but if you compare where he is with the other elite pitchers in the league right now and he is with us. It’s not 3,000 rpm or whatever it was early in the season, but it’s still good enough to get the guys out at the big league level.

Garrett Whitlock, Adam Otavino and Matt Barnes all looked out of relief as the Red Sox won both games versus the Jays before heading home for a four-game series with the Yankees starting Thursday.

Other Takeaways:

1. Kiki Hernandez hasn’t cooled down. He slammed a pitch down the left-field line for a line-drive home run in the third inning from Blue Jays lefty Robbie Ray, and hit base three times in five plate appearances on Wednesday. Since June 19, he has killed nine of his 14 people. His base percentage in the last month is more than .400 and an OPS is more than 1.000.
2. Barnes hasn’t been given a chance to close Since nearly blowing up the All-Star Game for the American League last Tuesday. Barnes needed about 30 pitches to avoid a jam in the eighth inning against the National League and has not pitched since. But he made quick work of Jace in it, carving him on 11 pitches for his first save since July 4.
3. Danny Santana is injured again. Santana was starting in left field as the Sox looked to knock Alex Verdugo out of the lineup against the left wing. Santana made a great play early on, leaping to his right to catch it near the wall, but a tight groin in his left leg forced him to withdraw late.


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