Romero, Jays beat Royals again
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero pitches against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Miss., April 22, 2012. (DAVE KAUP/Reuters)
Some days winning baseball is about passion, some days it’s about luck and some days, as it was on Sunday, it is all about business.
With no disrespect intended, the Blue Jays know they’ve caught the Kansas City Royals at an opportune moment in time. The Royals are in a deep, dark funk. They came into the third game of this weekend series having lost nine consecutive games and the Jays, with ace Ricky Romero on the mound, simply had to take advantage of that.
Romero did his part, working eight efficient innings and his teammates made the most of their offensive opportunities for a workmanlike 5-3 victory.
The Jays scored all the runs they needed in the fifth inning when they erupted for four runs off Kansas City starter Danny Duffy on four hits and two walks.
Brett Lawrie had a two-run single in that inning and, later, in the eighth inning, he and J.P. Arencibia combined on a double-steal, with Lawrie taking home plate and Arencibia pilfering second.
Romero held the Royals to five hits and two walks as he improved his own record to 3-0 with a tidy 104-pitch effort.
“I was able to get outs and get deep into the game,” said Romero. “That’s my goal every time. I had a little hiccup in one inning but I battled back, kept pounding the zone and let my defence work.”
With Sergio Santos in the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, Francisco Cordero worked the ninth inning for his first save as a Blue Jay and 328th of his career, though it was not without a bit of drama. Cordero entered the game with a three-run lead but gave up a one-out walk, then a double to Jeff Francoeur and an RBI single by Mike Moustakas. At this point, the tying run was at first base but Cordero ended the game with a double-play ball off the bat of pinch-hitter Brayan Pena.
“If you get nervous, then you’re in the wrong business,” said Cordero. “You’ve got to be able to stay calm in that situation. I just tell myself, make a good pitch, we’ve got a chance for a double play right here.”
“When I was young, sometimes I would get nervous but not any more. All I do now is step off, take a little breather. You’re in trouble, but one pitch can get you out and that’s what I did. I threw a good two-seamer down and away, he grounded it to second and we turned the double play. Now we go home happy. I get the save, we get the W and (Monday) we come back and try to do it again.”
The victory was the third in a row for Toronto over Kansas City and they will go for the series sweep tonight with Brandon Morrow opposing Royals lefthander Bruce Chen.
Duffy didn’t allow a hit until Ben Francisco’s single with two outs in the fourth but when the Blue Jays started to solve him in the fifth, he was gone quickly.
Rajai Davis led off the fifth with a double into the left-centre gap. After Arencibia walked, Davis stole third base, then was able to saunter home on Escobar’s single. One out later, Arencibia scored from second on a nice slide after a single by Bautista and an accurate read on the play by third base coach Brian Butterfield.
“Obviously J.P. isn’t known for his speed but it isn’t always about speed on the bases,” said Romero. “That was great baserunning by (Arencibia) and great third base coaching by Butter that resulted in a run.”
An intentional walk to Encarnacion loaded the bases for Colby Rasmus, who struck out for the third time. Lawrie then bounced a two-run single into right field to give Romero and the Blue Jays a 4-0 advantage.
The Royals cut that in half in the bottom of the fifth. Singles by Jeff Francoeur and Mike Moustakas and a walk to Humberto Quintero loaded the bases with nobody out. Alcides Escobar then bounced what appeared to be a double-play ball to Omar Viquel, who flipped to Yunel Escobar for the force at second, but Escobar threw wildly at first, allowing both Francoeur and Moustakas to score. Romero got things back under control with a pair of groundouts to end the rally.
The Jays stole their final run in the eighth. With Lawrie on third and Arencibia on first and Yunel Escobar at the plate, Arencibia broke for second and drew a throw from catcher Quintero. As soon as Quintero released the ball, Lawrie broke from third and easily beat the throw back from shortstop Alcides Escobar.
“On the pitch before, I made a false break and we saw (the middle infield) break for the bag,” said Arencibia, “so next pitch we were going, and I was stopping. (The catcher) threw through and Brett took it home.”