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Rookie Romero baffles A's in win


Rookie Romero baffles A's in win
Kurt Suzuki wishes Toronto Blue Jays fans had talked to him before jumping to conclusions about rookie pitcher Ricky Romero. Seriously. Rather than sitting there giving Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi the raspberry for picking Romero instead of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft, the Oakland Athletics catcher could have put everybody's mind at ease.

"You learn things as you go along in this game," said Suzuki, who was Romero's battery mate at Cal State-Fullerton. "The thing with Ricky is that he was always - always - a kid who worked his butt off. So you knew that combined with the stuff he had, it was just a matter of it all coming together. Am I surprised he's here? Ha, not at all."

Suzuki, who had one of four hits off Romero yesterday in the Jays' 1-0 win at the Rogers Centre, was in the Athletics lineup specifically because of his history with Romero. Didn't matter. Neither did the video the Athletics had of the two previous starts made by the Blue Jays rookie left-hander.

"We figured coming in that he was going to be tough to hit, you could tell that from the video," Athletics shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. "Some of the things he does on the mound, his delivery ... it looks a little bit like Johan Santana. He was tough. That change-up is pretty good."

"Tell him the slider and curve is okay, too," chimed in Jack Cust from a nearby locker. Cust was 0-for-4 and was the victim on two of Romero's six strikeouts.

The win raised the Blue Jays record to 10-4 heading into today's off-day. The rest is needed, since the Blue Jays needed 12 innings to beat the Athletics on Saturday, which is one of the reasons manager Cito Gaston let Romero stay in the game after Suzuki worked him for a walk with two out in the seventh inning. Mark Ellis' double-play grounder ended the inning and relievers Scott Downs and B.J. Ryan kept the lid on.

Athletics starter Dallas Braden gave up five hits, striking out four and walking three. One of those walks, a lead-off pass issued to Kevin Millar in the second, came back to bite hard when, after a wild-pitch, Lyle Overbay singled up the middle to bring in Millar. Overbay was the hero Saturday, stroking a walk-off, two-run home run.

"Today was all about fastball command," said Romero, who has a 13-inning scoreless streak. "But when I needed my slider and curve against some good swings, I got it."

Romero worked with catcher Raul Chavez, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Las Vegas after Michael Barrett was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a torn muscle and fracture in his right shoulder. Romero didn't shake off Chavez, and in the other dugout Suzuki, who was chosen in the second round by the Athletics in 2004, a year ahead of Romero, took note that his friend had added "a change-up, and added a little more sink to his pitch."

"It's different facing him as a hitter," Suzuki said. "He was a little nastier than I thought he'd be."

Romero worked quickly, induced a crucial double play and had good defence behind him. Aaron Hill threw out Ellis at the plate trying to score on Ryan Sweeney's double to right-centre in the third inning and Marco Scutaro dived to rob Cust on a liner that led off the second.

"Since his first start, he's gotten a little better every time," Gaston said of Romero. "You can see he doesn't scare out there. He might throw you a curve. Or a change-up. Doesn't matter about the count."

"Deep, deep inside I knew what I could do so this is no surprise to me," Romero said. "I'm just trying to build a routine, and stick to it."

Averaging seven innings over three starts? Nice routine, kid. Nice routine.

ON DECK

notes Roy Halladay goes after his fourth consecutive win tomorrow and the Texas Rangers have some hitters who are capable of spoiling things. Michael Young is 12-for-39, Hank Blalock 11-for-33 and Ian Kinsler 5-for-16 in their careers against the Jays ace. ... Marco Scutaro reached on an error in the third inning yesterday, his 17th consecutive game reaching base. ... The Blue Jays' hot start isn't resonating at the box office. Yesterday's announced crowd of 22,164 brought the season total to 154,393, almost 44,000 short of last year's announced figures after seven home dates.

Next Tomorrow, Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre, 7:07 p.m. EDT.

MATCHUPS RHP Roy Halladay (3-0, 3.00) v. RHP Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 4.91).

TV Rogers Sportsnet.

Jeff Blair


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 20, 2009

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