TORONTO - There was no happy ending to the Ricky Romero saga Wednesday night.
The agony to the nightmare that his season has become was simply delayed four days from what the norm has been.
Pitching on eight days rest instead of four — rest between starts being the latest gambit to try turning the Toronto Blue Jays lefty’s season around — the beleaguered Romero continued where he left off. Over 4 2/3 innings he allowed three runs on eight hits, threw 87 pitches and never posted a tidy 1-2-3 inning.
In the fifth inning, trailing 3-2 to the Seattle Mariners, Romero walked the first batter and Michael Saunders followed by punching a single to right field. That brought Jays manager John Farrell out of the dugout. As the skipper stepped onto the field, Romero appeared to be a little cheesed off as he spun on his heels and looked skyward.
In the end, it added up to another loss, his 13th in a row, as the Mariners took the second game of the series 3-2, a game where the Jays managed just two hits, one of them a two-run home run from Edwin Encarnacion..
Does Romero think that his manager, despite the quick hook, still has faith in him?
“Yeah, I think so,” Romero replied. “Like I said, he’s making moves, whatever’s best for the team. He felt like it was the right time for me to come out and I kind of accepted it. Steve (Delabar, who struck out the side against one walk) did a good job and the move was good.
“I feel like me and him (Farrell) have had some great talks. I know he has confidence in me and he wants me to get out of this as bad as anyone. I’m sure, speaking for him, he wouldn’t want to see me fail out there. Behind closed doors only me and him know the conversations we’ve had and I know he has trust in me.”
Now what? Nobody seems to know. Romero was asked if there’s anything he hasn’t tried.
“No, other than winning, that’s the only thing that’s left,” he replied.
Before the game, Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos held court in the dugout on a variety of topics, chief among them Romero.
“I’m just looking for him to perform,” Anthopoulos said of what he was looking for from the ‘ace’ of the pitching staff. “In New York (two starts back) his stuff was outstanding, his command was outstanding and that’s what was so curious about his follow up start (Tampa Bay, where he lasted one inning plus seven batters). The only thing I can point to is Brandon (Morrow) last year, he struggled for a good part of the year and his last three starts were outstanding.
“I think with Ricky it’s the same. You’re looking for him to end the season on a strong note. His stuff is still there. The arm strength is still there. I wish I had a reason as to why it hasn’t gone as well as it has. That’s why I think it’s important for him to finish out his starts to see how he ends up.”
Anthopoulos was asked if he had any clue at all of what has gone so wrong for Romero?
“If you look at the numbers, command is the biggest thing,” he said. “You look at the walk totals, that’s definitely been an issue. That’s the only thing you can point to statistically.
“I don’t want to belabour the point, but the start in New York it was all there. It wasn’t too long ago. From a scouting standpoint, it was so good. I don’t care what lineup he would have faced, he was electric. So it’s there.
“I don’t know the exact answer.”
Nobody seems to.
The hope going into Wednesday’s game, the basket in which all the eggs were placed, was that rest would be the cure. But Romero wasn’t sharp, didn’t have the good stuff or the good command and didn’t get much of a break from Farrell. The manager said said that he’ll continue to hand Romero the ball. The lefty’s next start is Tuesday in the Bronx.
“We’re not abandoning Ricky Romero,” Farrell stated emphatically.
Romero was sharp the last time he was in New York. Maybe lightning will strike twice.