If we told you Garrett Richards was going to absolutely shine out of the bullpen after the Boston Red Sox moved him to work as a reliever, you’d probably think we were wrong just based on his struggles as a starter.
Well, he’s certainly proving a lot of people wrong. He continued to dominate Thursday, tossing three scoreless innings to earn the save in Boston’s 4-0 shutout win of the Tampa Bay Rays to split the series.
The right-hander pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth innings with three strikeouts, though his second K was a bit of a gift from the home plate umpire. Regardless, Richards has thrown 13 1/3 innings out of the bullpen with seven hits, one earned run, three walks and 16 strikeouts. His ERA is 0.73 during that span.
Not too shabby.
After the game, manager Alex Cora had nothing but high praise for Richards.
“We felt he was throwing the ball well toward the end, he got burned by that good pitch to Vladdy (Guerrero Jr.) in his last start (against the Toronto Blue Jays.) The line wasn’t great but he threw the ball well,” Cora said over Zoom. “It’s just a matter that we had other guys coming in, and he embraced the opportunity. He didn’t see it as a demotion, he wants to help us win and he’s been outstanding.”
Cora went as far to call Richards a “workaholic” who reminded him of 2018 David Price when he pitched out the bullpen.
“A lot more competitive pitches from the bullpen. His slider is playing and just looking around the league, that’s a pitch that we were missing in the bullpen, and he’s been amazing,” Cora said. “His changeup is playing too. After two innings it was about pitching with him, right? He started mixing up his fastball and changeup and all that. He’s been great, and I think the most important thing is what he’s bringing every day. It’s very similar to David in ’18 toward the end in the bullpen. There’s certain guys that they love the fact that they have to compete on a daily basis, and he has to be ready for that. He pitched three days in a row, he doesn’t pitch or a while, today he goes three. And he loves that. He’s a workaholic, he works hard at his craft. He’s locked in right now and it’s fun to watch.”
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Red Sox-Rays game:
— Eduardo Rodriguez looked incredibly sharp on the mound with six scoreless innings. The southpaw gave up four hits, one walk and struck out six along the way.
“I feel like that’s been my best start of the season, velocity-wise, control-wise, body-wise. Everything,” Rodriguez said after the game.
Everything seemed to be working for Rodriguez, and he revealed he truly felt like himself Thursday night.
“For the first time in the whole season, I finally feel like completely me,” he said. “The cutter, the changeup, the curve ball, everything, four-seam, I feel like, for the first time, I feel good. That’s how I want to feel the rest of the season.”
— Bobby Dalbec was named the American League’s Rookie of the Month for August, and continued his success when he extended his hit streak to seven games in a 2-for-4, two-RBI night.
During his seven-game hit streak, Dalbec is hitting a cool .455 with a double, four home runs, 11 RBIs and five runs.
— Chris Sale, as he has done so many times in the past, was quite vocal in the dugout during the game.
“Chris was talking to the guys today, he’s been very loud in the club house, just letting them know it doesn’t matter what’s going on, we going to keep pushing,” Cora said. “There was a lot of energy today. The guys were into it from the get-go.”
— The Red Sox ended up going 4-3 on their road trip, which isn’t all that bad considering they had 11 players and personnel impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The good news, though? There were no new positive tests Thursday.
“We’re just trying to take it one day at a time,” Dalbec told reporters. “I think that’s the only way you can kind of defend this kind of thing mentally. We never know what’s going to happen. It’s tough, but it’s all part of it right now.”
— The Red Sox are two games ahead of the Oakland Athletics for the AL’s second Wild Card spot, and just 1 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees.