Blue Jays can't reward Romero in loss

Blue Jays can't reward Romero in loss

Blue Jays can't reward Romero in loss
TORONTO -- There was a sense of deja vu at Rogers Centre on Friday night, as Ricky Romero began the second half of the season the same way he began the first -- matched up against Cleveland's Justin Masterson.

The rematch of Opening Day starters provided an opportunity for Romero to start fresh after a disappointing first half. It won't be reflected in the win column, but Romero took a step in that direction.

Romero came out of the All-Star break with one of his best starts of the season, but was still outdueled by Masterson in the Blue Jays' 1-0 loss to Cleveland.

"You have tip your hat off to Justin," said Romero, who allowed just one run over six innings. "He threw a hell of a game, kept us off-balance all night. For me, it's not about personal [record].

"Like I've said all along, I know what I can do. Obviously, you want to get off on the right note in the win column, but [it was] a tough game and just get back to work tomorrow."

Romero entered Friday's game looking to forget all about the first 86 of the season. Toronto's No. 1 starter posted an impressive 8-4 record over that span, but also possessed a disappointing 5.22 ERA.

Along the way he battled problems with command and the overall quality of his stuff. That led to a 1.47 WHIP, to go along with just 76 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings.

Friday night's effort could potentially mark a turnaround in those numbers, as Romero followed up a strong start in Chicago prior to the All-Star break with another quality outing.

Romero surrendered six hits and two walks while striking out six. At times, Romero had trouble keeping the ball down in the zone, but had a pair of 1-2-3 innings and remained in control throughout the game.

"Through everything, I knew what I can do and it was just a matter of getting back on my own side and felt like I'm there [now]," said Romero, who has now allowed just three runs in his past 12 innings.

"Just have to continue to work hard and we have a whole second half. The good thing is, this team is in the playoff hunt and hopefully we're able to win some games and that's pretty much the bottom line."

Romero's outing contained only one glaring mistake. He hung an 0-1 curveball in the top of the second inning, which designated hitter Travis Hafner hit over the wall in right field for his eighth homer of the year.

The 27-year-old Romero allowed four more baserunners to reach scoring position, but didn't surrender another run. On most nights it would have been enough to earn a victory, but not with Masterson on the mound for Cleveland.

"I think any time you lose, it's frustrating, whether you lose 10-0 or 1-0," Romero said. "I've always said that I'm a sore loser, I hate losing. We're here to win and we just ran into a good pitcher tonight and he did what he had to do and it was a well-played game by both sides."

Masterson was nearly flawless for the second consecutive start against Toronto. On Opening Day, he allowed just one run in eight innings and he followed up that masterful performance on Friday with another one north of the border.

The Indians' ace faced the minimum through the first four innings and didn't allow a run over seven frames. Toronto's only real threat came in the seventh, when Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind reached base with one out.

Masterson then managed to strike out Yunel Escobar and get Kelly Johnson to ground out and end the threat. Masterson allowed just five hits while striking out five en route to his second scoreless outing of the season.

"I feel like I remember roughly what everyone had done to me, or what they did for the most part, so it's just kind of thinking back," Masterson said of facing the Blue Jays for the second time this season.

"Then when they hit the box, you kind of remember what your mindset was when they came in. You take a look at it, but they are making adjustments, so you have to be keen on those."

The Blue Jays dropped to 2-2 against the Indians this season while the club has lost four of its past five overall. It's not exactly how manager John Farrell wanted to start the second half, but he wasn't about to assign blame, considering how effective Masterson was for the Indians.

"They threw the ball exceptionally well against us tonight," Farrell said. "I thought Ricky pitched a good game, as did every guy that came out of the bullpen tonight. A 1-0 loss is tough to take, but in the end we're a swing of the bat away from tying it up."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.