SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right-hander Sergio Romo isn't throwing any harder. But, entering his seventh full Major League season, he's throwing better in certain ways.
Romo entered Tuesday night's game against the San Diego Padres with 15 strikeouts in nine innings, exceeding the personal-best 13.1 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio he recorded in 2011. The 32-year-old attributed his prodigious punchout pace to a combination of physical and mental factors.
Naturally, those factors are related.
"I'm just pitching," Romo said. "There's a lot more confidence and conviction going into it."
In Romo's case, confidence means being able to slip an 87-mph fastball past Wil Myers for strike three, as he did in Monday night's eighth inning when he fanned both batters he faced.
"I'm not throwing nine sliders in a row anymore," said Romo, who lost his closer's role while posting a career-worst 3.72 ERA last year. "I can't do that. This league is way too good. They're better than me if I allow them to be."
He added that he has "turned the page" away from "certain things that I feel didn't allow me to perform last season."
In short, Romo's at peace with himself.
"I feel a little more free and happy, and I think that has allowed me to to be a little more focused," he said. "I'm having fun again."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.