Richmond shaky in loss as Tigers beat Blue Jays

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DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP)—Scott Richmond didn’t appear to improve his chances of making Toronto’s starting rotation, but manager Cito Gaston cut him some slack Saturday because of a gusting 30-mph wind and a shaky Blue Jays defense.

The right-hander, in the mix along with left-handers Brad Mills and Ricky Romero for the last two spots in the rotation, gave up five runs—three earned — on six hits in a four-inning 80-pitch outing as the Detroit Tigers won 5-1.

“Overall, he didn’t pitch that bad,” Gaston said of Richmond.

“I don’t think one start’s going to ruin me,” Richmond said. “I hope one outing’s not the decision maker. If it is, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

The trouble started quickly for Richmond. Detroit’s Curtis Granderson struck out on a pitch in the dirt to start the game but was safe when Lyle Overbay missed catcher Michael Barrett’s wide, but catchable throw to first. Granderson then stole second, continued to third when Barrett’s throw sailed into center field, and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s single.

It got worse in the second. Left fielder Travis Snider misplayed Brandon Inge’s windblown fly into a three-base error. Inge scored on Granderson’s double, and Placido Polanco hit the next pitch into the wind for his second spring home run.

The wind tore the black covering off the batter’s eye in center field, leaving a gray see-through screen.

“Conditions are going to be like that,” Richmond said. “I’m not a guy to make excuses or take credit for my outings. I just didn’t get it done. When something bad happened behind me, I wasn’t able to control the damage and prevent the run from scoring.”

Added Gaston: “During the course of the season, if the guys make errors behind you, you’ve just got to pick it up for yourself and see what happens to the next hitter. Get the next hitter out. It tells you that they can deal with the pressure.”

Polanco drove in two runs for the Tigers, and Edwin Jackson allowed one run and six hits in seven strong innings.

Toronto made it 4-1 off Jackson in the bottom of the second on doubles by Overbay and Scott Rolen.

In the third, Carlos Guillen singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Richmond, moved to second on a grounder and scored on Gerald Laird’s sacrifice fly.

Inge made two spectacular diving catches at third base on line drives by Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells in the first two innings, and Jackson slipped a third strike past Overbay to leave the bases loaded in the third.

“We made some very good defensive plays,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Tough day to play, tough day to pitch. He’s just got to keep consistency. It looks like he gets better as the game goes on.”

Notes

Blue Jays right-hander Dirk Hayhurst, infielders Brad Emaus, Scott Campbell and Russ Adams, and outfielder Jason Lane were returned to minor league camp, and right-hander Brian Wolfe was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. … Romero is scheduled to start Sunday against Houston.

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