Mater Dei High School graduate Trevor Richards, an Aviston native, was the winning pitcher for the Miami Marlins on Monday in their 9-1 Grapefruit League victory against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.
The right-hander allowed one run on four hits in four innings, walked two and struck out three as he opposed defending National League Cy Young Award-winner Max Scherzer, a St. Louisan. Scherzer permitted six runs on six hits in four innings; Richards departed with a 6-1 lead. Garrett Cooper, Derek Dietrich and Brian Anderson homered against Scherzer.
"It wasn't too bad for the first one — the first start, anyway," Richards said in a telephone interview. "It was quite the experience. I've watched Scherzer on TV for quite a while now. It was pretty surreal."
Richards, 24, said he wasn't nervous because he felt at home. Roger Dean Stadium is the home to the high-Class A Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida State League, for whom Richards pitched most of last season before a promotion to Class AA Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp of the Southern League.
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"It was more just regular," said Richards, who graduated from Mater Dei in 2011. "I've thrown how many innings in that ballpark. The ballpark was the same, the routine was the same. It was just different hitters in the box. We kind of had a plan a little bit ahead. (Chad) Wallach, my catcher, called a good game and knew what was going on and what we wanted to do in terms of situations.
"They had some good hitters. I just tried to execute pitches. I was trying to get ready for a long season ahead rather than focusing on the fact that I was going against the Nationals. I looked at it with excitement at first, like, 'Yeah, this is pretty sweet.' But then once I got out there on the field, it was just another game."
Washington's only run against Richards came in the fourth.
With one out, Anthony Rendon doubled. One out later, Moises Sierra singled to cut the Marlins' lead to 5-1.
"I wouldn't say I was fatigued," Richard said of reaching his final inning. "There was a guy on third and two outs and I knew (Sierra) was going to be swinging early. I didn't want to give in and get behind in the count, so I attacked him with a fastball. I missed my location. It was supposed to be off the plate and I missed over (the plate). He made me pay. That's what those hitters will do.
"Looking back at it, overall, it was a solid outing. I made some mistakes. You can take something out of every game."
Richards' strikeouts came against Michael Taylor, Rendon and Adrian Sanchez.
"It was cool facing those guys," Richards said.
Richards received a defensive boost in the third.
Sanchez led off with a single and went to second on Scherzer's bunt. Adam Eaton singled to center, but Sanchez was thrown out at the plate by Lewis Brinson, the Marlins' top prospect. Richards then retired Taylor on a grounder to short.
"Brinson in center made a nice play coming in on the ball on that base hit (by Eaton) and made a really nice throw," Richards said. "That's always nice. (Miguel) Rojas made a really nice play up the middle, too. It's nice to have a good team, a good defense behind you."
Richards said Brinson, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Christian Yelich, "can do it all."
"I look forward to seeing what he can do this year," Richards said. "He can really hit."
Richards will not make the Marlins' Opening Day big-league roster. He has been sent to minor-league camp but was summoned to the big-league game Monday to get work. Richards will likely open the season with Jacksonville or Class AAA New Orleans, which plays in the Pacific Coast League.
Richards was the Marlins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017 when he was 12-11 with a 2.53 ERA in 27 games, 25 of them starts, with the Hammerheads and the Jumbo Shrimp. He walked 30 and struck out 158 in 146 innings, allowing six homers and a .218 average.
Richards was 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA in four June starts with Jupiter and was named the Marlins' Minor League Pitcher of the Month. He made the Florida State League All-Star team.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Richards throws a low-90s fastball along with a changeup and slider. He previously pitched for the Gateway Grizzlies, an independent team in the Frontier League. Richards' contract was purchased by the Marlins on July 3, 2016.
Richards graduated from Division II Drury University, located in Springfield, Mo., in 2015. He was not taken in the amateur draft, but hooked up with the Grizzlies and was 6-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 91 innings.
"I am extremely excited for Trevor and the opportunity he has (Monday)," Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said prior to Richards' assignment against the Nationals. "This is a testament to all the work he has put in. We are proud of him and know he will embrace the opportunity and compete. Hopefully, this is the next feather in his cap and he will continue to move up the ladder."
The Grizzlies will have a Trevor Richards bobblehead celebration July 20 for their game against the River City Rascals in Sauget.
As a senior at Mater Dei, Richards was 9-1 with a 1.07 ERA in 11 games, allowing 29 hits in 58 2/3 innings, walking 11 and striking out 92. Also a shortstop, Richards batted .475 (38 for 80) with five doubles, four triples, one home run and 24 RBIs.