Covering the Bases: Game 8
Know that Ricky Romero was smiling more after Toronto’s 4-2 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night. He was understandably disappointed for a moment, though, considering he came very close to a no-hitter.
Six outs away. Then? Blam.
Alex Rios belted a changeup into the left field seats for a two-run homer with no outs in the eighth. It was an abrupt end to Romero’s bid at history. Dave Stieb still stands alone in the club’s record book.
Vernon Wells had a nice view from center field.
“Everything is moving,” Wells said. “His two-seamer was nasty. His changeup was nasty. He threw his curveball whenever he wanted to. Everything can be plus pitches. When you have that, and you throw them from the left side, it’s dangerous.”
Before the game, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said that Romero will only get better as he gets more experience. After the game…
“He didn’t prove me wrong tonight,” Gaston said. “He was oustanding. He made one bad pitch. What a game.”
Oh, and Romero struck out 12 hitters. Career high.
There’s always next time.
SECOND: Before the Rios home run, Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski reached on a phantom hit by pitch. Now, let it be known that there were some in the Jays clubhouse who did think Pierzynski was struck on the foot. Blue Jays catcher John Buck did not see it that way.
“I looked on film. No,” Buck said. “I guess the name of the game is to get on base and produce runs. Maybe he felt he didn’t have a chance to hit it so he just got on base any way he could. I think every single player has done that in a situation.”
It was the first pitch and Pierzynski high stepped to try to avoid the pitch as it appeared to strike the dirt. He then hopped up the first-base line as if he had been hit on the foot. Home plate ump Tim McClelland stopped A.J. for a moment, but the catcher was allowed to head to first after a brief meeting between all the umpires.
“I don’t know if I really fault him for it,” Buck said of Pierzynski. “I was just surprised he got away with it.”
Then again, Pierzynski has been in the middle of things like that before…
“Yeah. I think that’s why everybody was so unsure whether it was true or not,” Buck said. “He’s so good at selling that type of stuff. He’s a [heck] of an actor, I guess.”
Pierzynski might be best known for running to first on what appeared to be a strikeout in the 2005 ALCS against the Angels. Pierzynski treated it like a dropped third strike on a close call, and was allowed to reach. Sox won, and went on to win the World Series that year. There have been other incidents along the way, too.
“I didn’t think it hit him, but it is what it is,” Romero said. “A.J. usually is known for stuf like that. It’s cool. Whatever. It’s fun. I still had a chance at that point I still have a chance to get a groundball and get a double play, but it didnt happen like that.”
Paging Michael Barrett…
THIRD: Eight games. Eight save chances. A chance to be 8-0 if it weren’t for a pair of blown saves from Jason Frasor. On Tuesday, Gaston went with Kevin Gregg for the save, but said it had nothing to do with Monday’s outing from Frasor. Gaston said he simply wants to avoid using guys on back to back nights if possible. Gregg responded with a 1-2-3 inning, notching his third save, tying Frasor for the team lead. Who’s your closer?
HOME: There was a subtle play in the fifth inning that helped the Blue Jays to this victory. With one out and a runner on first base, Lyle Overbay grounded a pitch to first. It looked at the start like it might be an inning-ending double play. Instead, Overbay hustled down the line and beat out the relay throw back to first from Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. From there, Buck doubled and so did Edwin Encarnacion. Two runs in. Jays up, 4-0. If Overbay is out, that Rios home ties the game and is even more costly.