1:05 AM Eastern
It was the kind of game from a Blue Jays starter for which it feels as though we’ve been waiting all season. The kind of game we saw quite a bit last year. Ricky Romero, coming off his worst outing of the season – and on the wrong side of a no-hitter, no less – turned things around and put together his best performance of the year, dominating the Twins from start to almost finish.
Romero took a no-hitter into the 6th inning before giving up a two-out ground single to left to Denard Span, then a 50-foot nubber up the third-base line for another hit by Trevor Plouffe. A passed ball moved the runners up, but he got Jason Kubel to ground to shortstop to end the inning, keeping the score locked up at 0-0.
As well as Romero had pitched to that point, his teammates couldn’t get the big hit, stranding ten runners through six innings against Carl Pavano and combining to go 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
They finally broke through in the 7th, with Juan Rivera sneaking a soft line single into short left field with men on first and second and nobody out. Corey Patterson, who inexplicably headed back to second when Rivera’s ball was heading into left, was saved by a terrible throw home by Delmon Young and scored the game’s first run.
Jose Bautista went deep leading off the 9th to double the lead – a blast so prodigious that it actually started to rain after his 12th homer of the season left the park!
Romero came out for the bottom of the 9th with a three-hit shutout, having thrown just 87 pitches, but walked Plouffe with his next four – the third leadoff walk he’d issued on the night. He rebounded to strike out Jason Kubel (on three pitches) and Justin Morneau, and John Farrell then came out to tell him he had one batter left. Delmon Young, who was 5-for-15 lifetime against Romero, represented the tying run, and notorious lefty-killer Michael Cuddyer was on deck having gone 0-for-3 but having required a nice defensive play to retire him each of those three times.
Young hit a ground ball just out of the reach of Aaron Hill into the hole for a single to bring Cuddyer to the plate with the winning run, and even though Romero still had the shutout alive, Farrell came and got him, bringing in Frank Francisco, who struck out Cuddyer to save the game.
At the time, the live blog and the Twitter were chock full of people letting Farrell have it, and I wasn’t sure what I thought the right move was (though I knew I wasn’t as upset as so many seemed to be). I wound up convincing myself as The JaysTalk got going that I didn’t have a problem with Romero being lifted when he was.
Granted, he’d only thrown 101 pitches, but he’d been given an opportunity to get the final out and had instead allowed the tying run to reach base. A noted lefty-killer, who is far weaker against right-handed pitching, was coming to the plate. When it comes down to it, it’s not about Ricky Romero getting a shutout, or even a complete game; it’s about the Blue Jays getting a win, and going to Francisco at that point gave them the best chance to do so.
I thought there would be a lot of debate about the move on The JaysTalk, but there were only two callers who disagreed with Farrell (though both were rather vehement about it). Here’s the show, for your listening pleasure:
I’m still trying to figure out what happened with Yunel Escobar in the 8th, by the way. With runners at first and third and one out, he bunted but Edwin Encarnacion never budged from third base. Somebody missed a sign, and judging from Escobar’s sheer fury upon getting back to the dugout after being retired, Yunel really didn’t seem to think it was him.
Tomorrow, the Blue Jays look for a fourth straight win, trying to improve to 8-18 in games that aren’t series openers. Jo-Jo Reyes tries again for his first major-league win since June of 2008, he faces righty Nick Blackburn, who has the Twins’ only win against the Blue Jays this year. We’re on the air at 3:30 pm Eastern with the pre-game show for a 4:10 first pitch – join us, won’t you?
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Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!