Baseball gods tease Romero

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero pitches against the Chicago White Sox in the first...

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero pitches against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning of their MLB baseball game in Chicago July 7, 2012. (David Banks/REUTERS)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:52 PM ET

CHICAGO - At first glance you’d think this would be about as good as it gets for the Blue Jays Ricky Romero.

All pre-game signs seemed to be pointing in his direction, the good vibes flowing his way.

To begin with, Romero had never lost to the White Sox having established a 3-0 record and 3.62 ERA against them in four career starts.

Next up was the fact that Gavin Floyd was starting for Chicago. In seven appearances against the Jays, including five starts, Floyd had forged a brutal 0-5 record and 7.26 ERA.

Easy pickings, right?

Finally, the pre-game on-field entertainment and U.S. anthem was sung by a mariachi band and given the fact that Romero’s family roots are Mexican, it seemed as if the baseball gods were finally smiling his way.

Unfortunately for Romero and the Jays it was not to be as Romero was sunk by a two-run home run by Kevin Youkilis and the Jays were shut out 2-0.

The loss for the Jays was their third in a row and eighth in their past 12 games.

On the plus side, Romero looks like he finally has his ship turned around. He got the loss but on his day, six innings, he allowed the two runs on four hits, walked three and struck out three.

“Today, I felt like I was in more control of myself,” Romero said. “I had a chance to talk to some people (between starts) just about the mental side of the game and just kind of slow everything down.

"I think that’s the biggest thing I got today from the guys, just that I was under control and that’s what you’re looking for, slowing the game down in big situations," he added. "I got out of some jams which I felt like I hadn’t done that in a long time. It felt pretty good out there.”

His undoing came in the fifth with one on and two out as Youkilis unloaded on a 1-1 pitch and ripped it over the fence in centre.

“One bad pitch cost us the game,” Romero said.

Romero entered the game low on confidence for all the right reasons.

For the first time in a while he could answer questions about his performance without apologizing for it.

“It’s one game and it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

His past two outings had been embarrassments.

June 27 against Boston he allowed nine runs, eight earned, on seven hits and six walks over just three innings.

His next time out, against Kansas City, he allowed eight runs on 11 hits and three walks in a six-inning stint.

So, that’s 17 runs and nine walks in his past two games where he totalled nine innings.

Actually, his last sharp outing occurred May 18 against the Mets when he held them to three hits and one run over six innings. Since that time, Romero made eight starts before this one and allowed four or more runs in each of them.

With the loss he ends the first half with an 8-4 record and 5.22 ERA.

“I’m as disappointed as anyone with my first half,” Romero said. “It’s definitely not what I wanted it to be. At the same time you learn from moments like this and I know 100 percent in my mind that it’s going to make me better and I’ll be ready for the second half.”

LAWRIE BANGED UP

In the sixth inning the Jays lost third baseman Brett Lawrie due to lower back tightness.

“My back kind of tightened up on me and wouldn’t let loose,” Lawrie said. “It just kind of stuck in one spot. I didn’t really know what it was so the best thing to do was just give them the high sign and say, 'Hey, it’s kind of barking a little bit.’

Lawrie said the tightness didn’t occur because of any one play.

“It just kind of kicked in,” he said. “From the beginning of the game it was just a little tight. It’s in one spot in my back. I just figured the best thing to do was get out of there.”

He said he expects to be back in the lineup for Sunday’s finale before the all-star break.

“I think so, I’m planning on playing,” he said. “I’ll see what tomorrow brings and see how I feel.”


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