Garrett Richards had said last week that his “delivery was off a little bit” following an erratic outing against the Blue Jays in which he walked six batters while only 48 of his 92 pitches went for strikes.
“I just think the delivery was off a little bit tonight,” he had said. “I was kind of fighting it the whole night. And then obviously, couldn’t get my release point under control. Just kind of a combination of things. Nothing that can’t be fixed.”
On Tuesday, Richards put the adjustments he made over the past six days into action and had his best start as a member of the Red Sox to this point as a result.
Over seven strong innings of work against the Mets at Citi Field, the veteran right-hander yielded just one earned run on seven hits and no walks to go along with a season-high 10 strikeouts on the night.
The lone run Richards gave up came in the bottom of the second, when with two outs he served up a solo home run to Jeff McNeil on a heater down the heart of the plate.
Outside of that, Richards was thoroughly impressive in spite of dealing with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths. He did wrap up his evening by retiring the final three Mets he faced in a scoreless seventh inning.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 — 70 of which were strikes — the 23-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 35% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing 11 swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.8 mph with the pitch.
Able to pick up his first winning decision as a member of the Sox, Richards will go for win No. 2 in his next time out, which should come against the the Rangers in Arlington on Sunday.
Martinez records outfield assist, Vazquez thwarts steal attempt
While Richards was in the process of tossing seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday, he got a boost from his defense on two occasions in his fifth frame of work.
There, Mets catcher James McCann led things off by ripping a line drive to left field.
J.D. Martinez, starting in place of Alex Verdugo (hamstring) in left, fielded the ball on a run and with a quick throw to second base, snuffed out McCann while he was trying to extend a leadoff single into a leadoff double. Marwin Gonzalez, Boston’s second baseman on Tuesday, also made a nice effort to get the tag on McCann in the first place.
After punching out Mets starting pitcher David Peterson for the second out of the inning, Richards surrendered a single to old friend Kevin Pillar. But like McCann, Pillar did not last long on the base paths thanks to Christian Vazquez throwing him out attempting to steal second base.
Andriese and Barnes close it out
In relief of Richards, Matt Andriese — not Adam Ottavino — got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the eighth, and he needed all of 16 pitches to sit down Pillar, Francisco Lindor, and Dominic Smith in order.
From there, Matt Barnes came on for the ninth and fanned two of the three hitters he faced in a perfect inning of relief to notch his fifth save of the year and preserve the 2-1 victory for his side.
Dalbec hits long-awaited first home run of season
While Richards and Co. did an effective job of keeping the Mets off the board, the Red Sox did not find themselves in many scoring situations on Tuesday, but they took advantage of the opportunities they had.
One of those opportunities arose in the top half of the third inning, when Bobby Dalbec led things off by crushing his first home run of the season 390 feet to right-center field off Peterson.
Fast forward to the sixth, and the top of the lineup got the job done this time when Enrique Hernandez led the inning off with a double and came in to score on a Rafael Devers bloop RBI single moments later.
Devers’ 19th RBI of the season gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.
Next up: Pivetta vs. deGrom
Things will not get any easier for the 15-9 Red Sox on Wednesday, as they will be matched up against two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who struck out 15 in a two-hit, complete game shutout bid in his last time out for the Mets against the Nationals.
Nick Pivetta will be tasked with opposing deGrom for Boston. The 28-year-old righty took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his last start against the Blue Jays, but wound up allowing two runs in a game the Red Sox lost 7-3.
First pitch for Wednesday’s series finale is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)