TORONTO - For three innings in the Blue Jays' 4-0 loss to Seattle on Friday night, Ricky Romero looked like his old self. Like the one-time ace around which the club had planned to build its pitching staff.
“It felt like the guy that I'd been working on this past month in Florida,” said Romero. “I felt good, had some good stuff, had a lot of live movement on the fastballs. That fourth inning, it just kind of got away from me a little bit.”
Romero breezed through three innings, facing the minimum, allowing a one out single in the first that was promptly erased on a double play groundball. He struck out three, walked none and threw only 33 pitches. The revamped delivery, from a layman's perspective, appeared smooth.
He was locked in a pitchers' duel with the Mariners' Felix Hernandez who, in an all too familiar fashion, was mowing down a psychologically fragile Blue Jays' lineup.
Then came the fourth. Seattle's Kyle Seager launched a two-run home run following a leadoff walk to Canadian Michael Saunders. A hit-by-pitch, a wild pitch, two more walks and a single later and the Mariners were up 3-0. Romero stranded the bases loaded in the bat-around inning. He strayed from his mechanics and paid the price.
“Just started working a little bit side-to-side instead of that good downward angle that I had in the first three innings,” said Romero. “It's adjustments that I've got to be able to make a quick fix, which I was able to do when I was working down there. Nothing to hang my head about, it's been an adventurous 24 hours for me so I'm just looking forward to getting some rest and preparing like I know how to prepare for my next outing.”
“I thought he was great, I really did,” said manager John Gibbons. “He ran into some trouble there that last inning with some walks and he hit the guy. Overall I thought he should feel good about that outing, it's something to build off of because at the beginning of the game I thought he was dynamite. I know he's a little disappointed and that but you know what, I think it's a good starting point.”
Romero's been dealing with a callous, which warranted a fourth inning trainer's visit. Later, with the bases loaded, Romero took a Jesus Montero comebacker off his left forearm. He recovered to get the force out at the plate and finished the inning. The welt swelled, his forearm tightened and Romero was lifted from the game. An X-ray was negative.
It was the culmination of an eventful day and a half, which began when Romero got the phone call telling him he'd be rejoining the Blue Jays.
“From getting the call (Thursday) morning to flying in here late night and then in the morning, going to breakfast, getting stopped by a cop,” said Romero, before continuing, “My girlfriend was flying to Tampa when I get called up so she had to get off the plane and then hop on another plane. So it's been pretty crazy.”
Romero was looking forward to a restful night's sleep.
He insisted he wasn't pulled over for speeding. But if he was, who could blame him?
Romero couldn't get back to Toronto fast enough.