Romero's losing streak reaches nine games

Romero's losing streak reaches nine games

Romero's losing streak reaches nine games
TORONTO -- With the score tied at 4 on Wednesday night and his Opening Day starter on the mound late in the ballgame, John Farrell had a tough decision to make.

Toronto's second-year manager could either go to the bullpen or provide Ricky Romero an opportunity to get out of his own jam. Farrell ultimately opted for a fresh arm, but when the move didn't pan out he was more than willing to shoulder the blame.

Right-hander Brad Lincoln surrendered a three-run homer to Adam Dunn as the Blue Jays were sent to their second consecutive defeat in a 9-5 loss to the White Sox at Rogers Centre.

"The decision to bring Lincoln in, who has been effective against some left-handers, obviously that move didn't work out," Farrell said after the disappointing loss. "That one's clearly on me for running him into Adam Dunn in that situation."

The Blue Jays entered the seventh inning on a bit of a high following a three-run shot by second baseman Kelly Johnson in the sixth. That capped a four-run comeback and presented Romero with an opportunity to snap a personal eight-game losing streak.

Romero came out looking for a shutdown inning but instead walked leadoff hitter Alejando De Aza on five pitches and then hit Kevin Youkilis with an inside fastball to put runners on first and second with nobody out.

That prompted Farrell to make a change on the mound. On the surface, the decision to take a lefty out of the game with the left-handed-hitting Dunn on his way to the plate would seem more than a little bizarre, but that would be ignoring Romero's history.

Romero entered the game having allowed lefties to hit .283 during his career compared to a .233 mark against righties. Even though Romero had retired Dunn three times already -- two grounders and a strikeout -- those historical numbers were enough for Farrell to go with the hook.

But the move immediately backfired as Lincoln surrendered the three-run shot and later allowed a two-run homer to Dayan Viciedo which put the game completely out of reach.

"He's the manager, he makes the decisions," said Romero, who was charged with six runs on eight hits while striking out five and walking two. "I can't do anything about that. I would like to finish. Obviously, you get in that mess, you want to get out of it on your own.

"Nothing against the bullpen or anyone, but as a starting pitcher, you get in a mess like that, you want to get out of it. Like I said, he makes the decisions and you've just got to live with them."

While Farrell tried to accept responsibility after the game, his setup man attempted to do the exact same thing. Lincoln, who was acquired from Pittsburgh on July 30 for left fielder Travis Snider, said he had plenty of experience in the National League coming into the game during similar situations.

The 27-year-old actually has better numbers against lefties (.227 average, .601 OPS) compared to righties (.273 average, .739) but on this day the track record didn't matter. Lincoln was charged with three runs while also allowing the two inherited runners to score on three hits.

"I've done that enough to be able to come into that situation and know what I need to do," Lincoln said. "I just didn't get the job done today, that's on my shoulders. That is my job, to come in and shut that team down whenever they get some momentum going. Didn't do my job today, that's it."

Earlier in the game, Chicago jumped out to an early lead as Romero surrendered four consecutive singles in the second inning en route to a pair of runs. Two innings later, it was light-hitting outfielder Dewayne Wise who sent a 1-0 fastball over the wall in right field for his fourth homer to put Romero and the Blue Jays down by four runs.

Johnson changed that with a three-run shot off right-hander Gavin Floyd to even the score in the sixth but the deadlock didn't last long as Chicago regained the lead in the following frame.

"That was amazing," said Floyd, who allowed four runs on eight hits. "A.J. [Pierzynski] kind of joked around that we would get them back and shoot, we put a five-spot up and it's exciting."

"We can battle with the best of them. It was nice to get the five runs and get a win today."

The early woes, combined with the tough seventh inning, resulted in Romero's ninth loss in his past 10 starts. He's 0-9 over that stretch while posting a 7.45 ERA and is now the owner of the league's longest losing streak.

It's another turn in what has been a frustrating season for Romero, who began the year as the club's No. 1 starter. Thursday night was no different and the frustration clearly showed after the game as he continues to search for answers.

"It feels like I haven't gotten rewarded all year with anything that I do," said Romero, whose ERA sits at 5.47. "I'm feeling good. I've had great weeks of workouts and bullpen sessions, and I'm right where I want to be."

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.