Over the last week, Garrett Richards convened with pitching coach Dave Bush as the two worked together to fix the mechanical issues that so obviously plagued him in his last start.
In that outing against Toronto, Richards not only couldn't get out of the fifth inning -- he seemingly couldn't throw the ball over the plate, or at least not with any regularity, as his six walks demonstrated.
The Richards that emerged from Bush's laboratory Tuesday night at Citi Field barely resembled the one that was last spotted at Fenway. For one thing, his delivery was far more streamlined. For another, he unveiled a curveball that he had only thrown occasionally in his first four starts and transformed it into his weapon of choice, throwing it 20 times to great effect.
And finally, and most dramatically, there was his control, which suddenly reappeared, as if Richards had simply carelessly misplaced it, like his keys. He walked no one, struck out 10 and gave the Red Sox seven superb innings of seven-hit, one-run ball in the Red Sox' taut 2-1 interleague win over the New York Mets.
"That's the guy we envisioned,'' said Alex Cora.
What Cora seemed to be suggesting was more like: "That's why we paid this guy $10 million this past winter.''
In two of his first four starts, Richards didn't seem to be worth a plug nickel, much less an eight-figure salary commitment with a club option for the same in 2022. In the third game of the year, he was rocked for six runs on seven hits before he could record an out in the third inning. What followed were two modest upgrades, but when Richards seemed like a nervous Little Leaguer against the Toronto Blue Jays last Wednesday.
He didn't just miss the strike zone; there were times when he was in danger of missing the area code, throwing errant fastballs way up firm and high, and bouncing sliders and cutters in and around the general vicinity of the plate.