It feels like it’s been a while since the Blue Jays last got what you’d call a dominant performance on the mound from a starter. Ricky Romero came the closest with his complete-game, 3 run performance against Kansas City last week; so perhaps it’s only fitting that he found a way to improve on that outing, completely dominating the Orioles tonight en route to a 4-1 Blue Jays win.
I’ve said before that I think Romero is hiding behind a bit of a Toronto veil right now, but I’d put him right up there with the other AL aces (CC, Verlander, Price, Lester) – and he showed why tonight. Romero threw 8+ innings of 3-hit ball, striking out a dozen batters to tie a career high. Impressively, Romero kept his pitch count manageable despite all the strikeouts, and didn’t gas out until the 9th inning, when he led off with a pair of walks before being removed for Frank Francisco. He had everything working today, continually frustrating batters and drawing a total of 17 swinging strikes, good for 14.9%.
Romero was able to consistently set up his breaking stuff with his fastball, and kept the O’s batters guessing basically the entire night; the only blemish on his line, the 1 9th inning run, scored when Frank Francisco allowed a single with runners on 1st and 2nd. It’s the sort of performance that I think we can come to expect consistently from Romero going forward – he’s gone at least 7 innings in his last 7 starts, with an 3.01/1.20 ERA/WHIP split. Hard to imagine that this is only his third full season as a starting pitcher in the bigs – Romero has arrived.
Of course, Romero didn’t win the game by himself – as close as he may have come to doing so. The Jays offense backed him up with a trio of long balls, with solo shots coming from Yunel Escobar and Juan Rivera, and the final blow being dealt by none other than Adam Lind, whose 2-run homer off Clay Rapada was the clincher in what was a very close game. Orioles’ starter Jake Arrieta came close to matching 0’s on the scoreboard with Romero, and the 2 solo home runs were the only real blemish on his day.
The Blue Jays are now on the verge of completing their first series sweep since the middle of May against the Twins, and will count on some new blood to get the job done. Zach Stewart, the team’s most recent callup, will be called to the mound to make his MLB debut against Jeremy Guthrie tomorrow afternoon.