10:20 PM Eastern
And what has he done? Well, he has pitched himself right into the conversation for a starting job with the Blue Jays when the season opens in two weeks.
I had never seen Romero pitch before, and I certainly wasn’t blown away what he did today, but he was fine. He threw a first-pitch strike to almost every batter he faced through the first three innings, and got out of his rhythm in the fourth before finding it again after a couple of hitters. He was helped out by some crappy Cincinnati baserunning and some terrific defense by John McDonald (no less than three big-time webgems, which Cito Gaston called “Just another day at the office for Johnny Mac”) , but in the overall, he certainly pitched well enough to give the Jays a chance to win, which is exactly what you want out of your fifth starter.
Romero’s five innings of two runs on seven hits (all singles), two walks and five strikeouts stack up well with Scott Richmond’s 3 2/3 of two runs on nine hits, no walks and five strikeouts in Fort Myers Sunday, and they beat the crap out of Matt Clement’s ugly afternoon the same day.
Romero, Mills and Richmond are in a race for the last two spots, and I don’t know who has the edge between the lefties despite the fact that Mills has already been crowned the 4th starter in some corners. I’m pretty sure Richmond is going to make it, although Cito mused before the game that he might move Jesse Litsch to the third spot in the rotation if he took three lefties.
I do know that Romero will get another start in an “A” game, and that Clement more than likely won’t.
Aaron Hill had two hits today, stole a base and was thrown out at the plate in the first inning, going in hard, but sliding, though still colliding with Reds’ catcher Ryan Hanigan. I held my breath seeing Hill go in hard at the plate, and it looked like Hanigan knocked him in the head as Hill tried to slide through his legs, but Hill told me that he was worried about Hanigan, since Hill spiked him on the leg on the way in. Hill was fine, and says that he has to play the way he did before he got hurt. As for the stolen base, he really looked terrific. Beat the throw by plenty and had great acceleration over the last 40-50 feet. Hill says that he has the green light this season, and expects to steal more as the two-hitter in order to give Alex Rios and Vernon Wells a better chance to drive him in.
Speaking of Wells and Rios, there was some fun interplay between them in the outfield today. In the 4th inning, with Jay Bruce on first and nobody out, the Reds put the hit-and-run on and Jeff Keppinger hit a line drive to shallow centre. When Wells caught the ball, Bruce was standing on second with the requisite “oh, crap” look on his face. A halfway-decent throw, and he’s meatcake. Unfortunately for the Jays, Wells spiked his throw, and it didn’t even make the dirt around second base, hitting the outfield grass and taking a few hops before Randy Ruiz hauled it in with Bruce standing safely on first.
Wells was hearing it from his teammates, and he flipped his glove to the ground, put his hands on his hips and turned his back to the infield in mock disgust. The next batter singled to right, and Rios came up throwing and nailed Bruce by plenty going in to third. He then turned to Wells and said “that’s how you do it.”
Travis Snider was supposed to make the trip but didn’t, staying behind to DH in a minor-league game. He’s expected to be in the line-up for the Phillies game on Tuesday, as is Marco Scutaro, who red-eyed back from L.A. Sunday night. It could be the first time all spring that all nine Opening Day starters are in the line-up together.
Only three games left in FLA for me before I head back again. Man, does the tempus fugit.
Rational, reasonable comments are always appreciated!