Five-run fifth unravels Richmond, Jays
Righty loses strong start as Royals' bats come alive
TORONTO -- With a man standing on second, the Blue Jays' Scott Richmond induced a ground ball to first for an easy out. He needed to retire one more batter to end the frame with the score still tied. But a pair of walks loaded the bases, and a triple by Royals shortstop Willie Bloomquist cleared them, giving Kansas City a lead Toronto couldn't overcome.
Richmond's rocky fifth inning sent the Jays to a 6-2 loss on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre. After falling behind, 5-2, in the fifth, the Jays could muster little offense against Royals starter Luke Hochevar, as Toronto lost for the third time in four days.
In Richmond's first start since May 24 -- the Jays (31-27) skipped his spot in the rotation after a couple of off-days -- he was almost perfect through the first four innings, allowing only a single in the third inning to second baseman Alberto Callaspo, who was promptly erased on a double play. Heading into the fifth, though, pitch location became a problem.
"Richmond started out okay," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "[It's] just location, up and down. ... High-ball hitters he's throwing it up, low-ball hitters he's throwing it down. You've got to get that corrected. He hasn't been out there for a while, either, so you can give him a little leeway there."
Richmond attributed the fifth-inning outburst by the Royals (24-31) to poor fastball location on his part.
"It was a little up today," he said. "It was good in relief the other day, but today, earlier in the game, I was getting away with a few pitches, but in that fifth inning I was falling behind batters, and the fastball location was an issue."
Richmond (4-3) struck out Royals designated hitter Mike Jacobs on a slider to lead off the fifth, but got into trouble from there. Jose Guillen hit a ball to right field just out of the reach of second baseman John McDonald for a single, before Mark Teahen teed up on a 2-0 fastball from Richmond for a two-run shot.
After a ball off the bat of Callaspo bounced just in front of the warning track in left field for a double, Richmond got Brayan Pena to ground out on a first-pitch curveball for the second out of the inning.
With Mitch Maier at the plate, Richmond threw five breaking balls to fill the count before a slider down and in went for a ball, giving Maier a free pass. The next batter up, David DeJesus, got a series of pitches on the outside of the plate, but not close enough to the strike zone for him to swing.
"I tried to make him chase something out of the zone," Richmond said. "But instead of being aggressive and going after him, I ended up being too out of the zone, obviously.
"The two walks with two outs -- falling behind, then I just ended up walking them. It's unacceptable, and it can't happen."
The walk to DeJesus loaded the bases ahead of Bloomquist's triple, which sent Richmond to the showers after having given up five runs on five hits and two walks.
"I fell behind, and I had to put it in there, because I didn't want to walk a run in," Richmond said, "so it ended up being up in the zone and he hit it for a big hit, and it's frustrating."
A five-run inning was also Richmond's downfall in his last loss, which came on May 13 against the Yankees.
Richmond said his difficulty in the fifth inning was "just mental."
"I was concentrating hard, I was trying to get them out," he said. "I was trying to locate the ball, it just didn't end up going where I wanted it to go."
The Jays held a 2-0 advantage going into the fifth, after scoring a pair of runs in the third inning. Lyle Overbay drew a walk on six pitches from Hochevar to lead off the frame, before catcher Raul Chavez, the next batter Hochevar faced, hit a home run -- the catcher's first with the Blue Jays -- to left field on a 1-1 slider.
That was all the Jays would get from Hochevar (1-2), though. Outside of the third inning, Hochevar totally shut down an offense that had put up nine runs the night before.
"He didn't throw many different pitches," Gaston said. "He threw a two-seamer, four-seamer and slider and just kept the guys off-balance enough to stay in the ballgame."
The Jays had three hits in the third, but other than Overbay's seventh-inning double, went hitless through the rest of Hochevar's 6 2/3 innings.
"He's got a weird release point," Toronto's Adam Lind said. "For me, it was hard to pick him up. I couldn't get my timing right, and that forced me to swing at bad pitches.
"He kept us off-balance and located his fastball."
That's something Richmond will look to work on before his next start.
"I've got to work hard in my bullpens and locate my fastball in there," Richmond said, "so that when I do come into the game, I can locate it."
Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.