The night cap of Mondays Double Header vs the postseason bound Orioles was full of underlying stories. In a way the game was a reflection of Toronto’s season to date featuring a series of high, lows and simply put, a lot of confusion.
Searching for his first win in 15 consecutive starts, Romero was the main headline as things got off to a good start following Encarnacion’s 41st Home Run in the 1st inning, spotting the 27 year old South Paw to an early 2-0 lead.
His team took advantage of a reeling Wei-Yin Chen by tacking on a pair of additional Runs in their half of 2nd however Romero gave up a couple of 1 out Singles that came around to score later in the frame.
With the score set at 4-2. Romero made a play on a soft ground ball to his right off the bat of Baltimore’s Taylor Teagarden. Unnecessarily rushing the play, Romero uncorked a high throw to 1st allowing the Catcher to cross the bag safely. Ricky then proceeded to “hit” a non responsive Nate McLouth with an over cooked Curveball and as the batter took his base, it became clear that frustration was starting to set in. Fortunately the former All Star got Hardy on a fly ball to CF.
Romero would settle down in the following 2 innings and despite a high pitch count, the Lefty looked poised to get through the 5th and have a chance to win his first game since Inerleague play earlier on in the season.
McLouth lead off the inning with a solo shot to Left off of a decent pitch and the lead was cut to 1. Feeling the ever mounting pressure and noise of the crowd, Romero answered by striking out Hardy on a Curve in the dirt. 1 out.
Jones would find his stroke and collect a double off Romero before Chris Davis would account for the 2nd out of the inning via the Strikeout. With 2 out, Romero would again fall victim to the Base on Balls and proceed to walk the 5 & 6* batters creating a bases loaded, 2 out situation for Robert Andino
*The walk to Roberts would prove to be the most frustrating AB of the night as Romero would choose to throw 3 consecutive Curve Balls outside of the zone after getting ahead in the count. The fact that Romero would shy away from his bread and butter pitch (Changeup) is one of the nights biggest question marks.
Despite appearing to be out of gas, Farrell made the decision to stick with his Ace and give him a shot to get out of the inning with a chance of winning the ballgame. Andino would ground out softly to Romero who opted to tag the runner in between home and first. A collective sigh of relief crossed the minds of Romero’s teammates and fan base as he had escaped the inning with the lead intact.
Moises Sierra would send his 6th Home Run of the season over the head of Left Fielder Nate McLouth in what turned out to be a pivotal Run for both the Blue Jays and Romero in the 6th.
After barely making his way out of a jam in the 5th, Romero would take the mound for Toronto sitting at labored 91 pitches on the night. By no means should Farrell have sent the struggling South Paw back out to given the fact that he had plenty of relief arms in the pen (despite the Double Header).
Andino would Double, Teagarden would Single and McLouth would walk to load the bases before Farrell had seen enough and made the walk to the mound to relieve his struggling pitcher.
Had it not been for Sierra’s lead off Home Run in the 6th, Romero would have ended up with a no decision in the game as Brad Lincoln would surrender an RBI Single to J. Hardy before striking out Jones and getting Chris Davis to fly out into a phenomenal Double Play thanks in large part to a perfect throw from Blue Jays Left Fielder Anthony Gose. Collectively, Romero’s teammates had picked up their lefty and emotions were running high both on the bench and across the fan base.
The Blue Jays would rally in the 7th, loading the bases before Arencibia would go on to hit a 2 out, full count Grand Slam giving Toronto a 9-4 lead over Baltimore. Lincoln would continue to pitch masterfully en route to striking out 3 over 2 innings pitched before handing the ball over to Aaron Loup who would turn in a perfect 8th inning.
In the 9th, Closer Casey Janssen would allow a Run but nothing else as for the first time since June, the Blue Jays would win a Ricky Romero decision. This game was the definition of a team win as everybody seemed to have chipped in to secure that elusive W and snap a 6 game skid.
Lost in the dramatics of this game is the fact that at the age of 45, Omar Vizquel tied yet another Hall of Famer in career hits. Vizquel’s 2nd Hit of the night, a soft line drive to Right, would be his 2876th hit recorded during his 24 year career in the Bigs. This would tie the 45 year old with former New York Giant great Mel Ott and move him closer to becoming #39 on the all time list.
A lot has been said about meaningless games in September from a Toronto stand point. In what might not mean much to the Blue Jays, these games are absolutely massive for both Baltimore and New York as they battle it out in hopes of staying out of the 1 game Wildcard playoff.
The Blue Jays could throw a serious wrench in the plans of these 2 contenders if they continue to battle the way they did Monday night. As a fan, you can and should treat the next couple of series as if it were the play offs because they mean something to our rivals.
In fact, they mean a lot.