BOSTON - If Toronto Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero never faces the Boston Red Sox again, it will be too soon.
It’s a team that during his brief career has shown him no pity, and Wednesday night they laid another beating on him.
Romero came into the contest with a litany of all-star stats. He had allowed just 17 runs over his last 75 2/3 innings pitched for a nifty 2.02 ERA.
In 17 outings, he had registered 14 quality starts — a minimum six innings pitched and three earned runs or less.
He was a quality starter with quality stuff.
But when going up against Boston, all that goes for naught.
The Red Sox came out Wednesday night swinging from their heels, and on Romero’s second pitch of the game Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury connected and launched a solo shot to right field. It would be the first of six extra-base hits that Romero would surrender in his brief 4 1/3 inning outing.
Overall, the Red Sox would bang out nine hits and score six runs en route to a 6-4 victory and hand Romero his eighth loss of the season.
In his career against Boston, Romero is now 2-6 with an ungodly 8.08 ERA.
“I don’t know what it is. I felt good coming out of the pen and I felt like this was going to be a good night for me,” Romero said. “I had everything working and felt like today maybe I was in the zone a little bit too much. Those guys are pretty good at fighting off pitches and when they get the one they want, they don’t miss it.”
The fact that Romero thought he had quality stuff this night just adds to his frustration.
“I’m about as lost as I can be against this team,” he said with a shake of his head. “I’ve tried everything.”
He was asked if he has to try and pitch to his strengths rather than try to attack Boston’s weaknesses.
“I always pitch to my strength no matter what team it is,” he said. “I don’t know what it is about this team. I don’t know if they see the ball well off me, if I tip something. I don’t know.
“This is not the way I wanted to end the first half but it is what it is.”
He was adamant that he would not tear apart his approach when facing the Red Sox the next time out.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I know I’m good enough to pitch against any team and I know my stuff plays well against any team so I fell like I don’t need to change a thing, just continue to make quality pitches and go deep in games.
“I’m not scared of anyone. It’s just one of those things. This team just seems to be on my stuff every time I go out there. But I’m looking forward to facing them and hopefully I’m successful.”
One of the main topics of discussion prior to Wednesday’s game was the final play of Tuesday night’s loss.
With the Jays trailing 3-2 with two out and two on, John McDonald slapped a single to left field. Boston outfielder Darnell McDonald raced in and threw a perfect strike to catcher Jason Varitek, who was blocking the plate with his left foot. The Jays' Edwin Encarnacion attempted to score from second. On the bang-bang play at the plate, replays showed Varitek didn’t tag Encarnacion and that the Jays' DH ultimately touched the plate with his right leg.
In the Jays' clubhouse, a miffed John Farrell stated: “We should still be playing.”
Wednesday, Farrell was asked about instant replay. He’s not in favour of instant replay as much as he’d like to see greater accountability from the umpires.
“I don’t know if I’m in favour of instant replay (on plays at the plate), I’d just like the calls to be made right,” Farrell said. “In general umpires do a very good job. They have one shot at it in real time. Now, they are held in a regard that at times they are unapproachable.
“We have to respond to the replay that is on TV. The players have to answer to the replay that is on TV. I think there needs to be an even playing field when those decisions come into play that they don’t have to answer to that. That’s the one issues that we in uniform and on the field have a problem with.”
So, umpires should automatically have to respond to queries about close plays?
“Yes, absolutely,” Farrell said. “What’s at stake here is current roster position for players, jobs are at stake and we have to answer to those. Why we’re held to a different standard in this game, when judgement comes into question, they don’t have to respond to that. They only have to respond to a technicality or an interpretation of a rule. Yet their decisions inside a game have as much impact as anyone else’s decision and I think that needs to be levelled out.”
It should be noted that when the call was made, the Jays had no beef. Farrell didn’t come out of the dugout to argue with home plate umpire Brian Knight.
It was only after the Jays saw the replay in the clubhouse did they know that Varitek missed the tag and Knight missed the call.
There is no recourse for that series of events. You can hardly have the game end, the players leave the field and five minutes later call everyone, including the fans, back into the park and on to the field.
Some calls you just have to live with and move on.
Tuesday’s was one of them.
But technology, as Farrell noted, is not a static thing.
“Technology is not slowing down in the clubhouse but it has not caught up on the field,” he said. “I still think it’s a game based around the human element and it should stay that way. But they’re also going to have a need for their response and what went into their decision making because we’re all held to that standard.
“Everyone in uniform has to answer to every one of your (the media’s) questions. Why does that not hold true for the umpires?”