News Forum Blogs Roster Players Schedule Depth chart Stats Videos Photos

Toronto Blue Jays News

News » Romero settles into groove

Romero settles into groove

Romero settles into groove
With two out in the ninth inning, Oakland A's third baseman Eric Chavez swung at a 1-0 fastball from Jays reliever B.J. Ryan, tapping it weakly back to the mound. Ryan collected the ball and fired to first to the final out.

Another game over, another series won and another milestone reached for the American League's hottest squad.

Yesterday's 1-0 win over the A's pushed Toronto's record to 10-4, their .714 winning percentage leading the entire league. The victory also clinched the three-game series with the A's, marking the first time in team history the Jays have won four consecutive series of at least three games to open a season.

After an off-season defined by a lack of trades and free-agent signings, it's an especially strong start for one of Baseball's most surprising teams.

But don't use that word around manager Cito Gaston.

"Surprised? No, I'm not surprised," Gaston said after yesterday's game. "Happy? Yes."

The Jays started the season with an untested group of starters supporting Roy Halladay and until this past weekend they had been winning with offence. Heading into yesterday's game, they ranked first in the AL in batting average (.296), runs (86) and hits (141).

But a starting rotation that seemed unsteady has proved solid and the Jays ground out a pair of weekend victories with pitching, defence and well-timed hitting. Yesterday was a case in point.

In the fourth inning, rookie Ricky Romero retired the heart of the A's batting order, striking out Jack Cust with a slider that made the slugger's knees buckle as it clipped the outside corner.

Two innings earlier, Cust had stung a line drive up the middle, but a lunging Aaron Hill snagged it to snuff out a base hit.

And a day after his 12th-inning homer sank the A's, first baseman Lyle Overbay stroked a second-inning single to score Kevin Millar.

That one run sustained Romero and a Jays bullpen that Gaston had been worried about being tired.

Romero, now 2-0, lasted seven innings, allowing only four hits while striking out six. Working on consecutive days, relievers Scott Downs and Ryan allowed only one hit between them.

A first-round draft pick in 2005, Romero said he managed to maintain his confidence even through an erratic stretch in spring training that prompted the club to consider sending him back to the minors.

Three starts into his major-league career, the rookie left-hander has shaved his ERA to 1.71.

"I knew what I could do this whole time; this ain't no surprise to me," said Romero, whose 21 innings pitched match Halladay for the team lead. "I know there's going to be bumps along the road, but I feel that at this point it's all about getting better."

Ryan, meanwhile, threw 13 strikes in 16 pitches, striking out Cust while pitching on consecutive days for the first time this season and earning his second save.

Earlier this year, Gaston said he didn't want to use Ryan in back-to-back games and last season his ERA was 1.35 points lower when pitching on two or more days rest.

Clearly, Gaston has re-considered that position.

"I won't use him tomorrow, though," Gaston joked.

Today is the Jays' first day off after playing 14 in a row.

mcampbell @

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 20, 2009

Toronto Blue Jays Photos
All the latest Toronto Blue Jays Photos Store photographs. Major League Baseball MLB.
The most recent photo
Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Add to Windows Live

Copyright ©, Inc. All rights reserved 2008.