Romero's struggles continue in loss to Mariners

Romero's struggles continue in loss to Mariners

Romero's struggles continue in loss to Mariners
TORONTO -- An extended period of rest did little to reverse Ricky Romero's prolonged period of struggles on the mound.

Toronto's left-hander got the start on Wednesday night after being skipped his last turn through the rotation. The hope was that additional downtime would provide both a mental and physical break in an effort to gets things back on track.

Romero's outing didn't go accordingly to plan, though, as he struggled with his control and allowed three runs in four-plus innings of work in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners at Rogers Centre.

"A number of baserunners, a number of pitches that were up in the zone," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "So commanding the strike zone in the bottom half was inconsistent. And certainly, much like we've talked about with him, [you] can recognize that he is frustrated.

"But we have no intention of shutting him down at this moment. And other than that, offensively, it was a struggle for us."

The latest twist in what has been a bumpy road means that Romero is now riding a 13-game losing streak. That skid is the worst in the Major Leagues this season and the longest for a Blue Jay in one year. It's also tied for the longest streak in franchise history with Tom Underwood, who lost 13 straight in 1978-79.

Romero hasn't won since June 22 in Miami and owns a 7.95 ERA over his past 14 outings. It has been a remarkable fall from grace for a starter who began the year 8-1 and is just one year removed from being one of the top pitchers in the American League.

As the losses continue to mount, so too has Romero's level of frustration. He has never shied away from talking to the media after one of his bad outings, but it's become clear he is somewhat at a loss for answers.

"I felt good," Romero said. "Like I said, I don't really know anymore. It's been tough, but you just have to get ready for the next one.

"It's frustrating and I'm sure everyone in this clubhouse wants to see me get out of it."

The trouble for Romero on Wednesday began in the second. He served up a 1-0 pitch to Miguel Olivo that the catcher sent over the wall in left-center field. Olivo's 10th blast of the season put Seattle in front, 1-0, and the Mariners didn't relinquish the lead.

Romero allowed the first two batters to reach base in the third inning but managed to escape any damage thanks in part to a key double play off the bat of designated hitter Jesus Montero. But more trouble was on its way in the fourth, as Romero surrendered a two-out, two-run single to Franklin Gutierrez.

Toronto's former ace came back out to start the fifth but threw six consecutive balls and was eventually lifted with two on and nobody out. He had thrown just 87 pitches and appeared visibly frustrated with Farrell's decision to remove him from a 3-2 game.

Afterwards, though, Romero said there were no hard feelings about the decision.

"He's making moves for whatever is best for the team," said Romero, who allowed eight hits and four walks. "He felt like it was the right time for me to come out, and you kind of accept it.

"Me and [Farrell] have had some great talks, I know he has confidence in me and wants me to get out of this as bad as anyone. I'm sure, speaking for him, he wouldn't want to see me fail out there, which I appreciate."

That Romero was working on nine days' rest didn't appear to have much of an impact, as he continued to battle control problems at times. However, he did manage to keep the game in check for the duration of his start. Even though it didn't result in a win, Farrell stood behind the organization's decision to give Romero some time off.

"I still believe fully that the rest was needed, and we took that attempt to get him right or to see him a little bit more fresh, physically," Farrell said.

"As I stated earlier this month and in August, we're not abandoning Ricky Romero. We're going to continue to work with him, we're going to continue to finish this year on a positive note, and that is our intent going forward."

Toronto's offense did little in the way of helping out its starter. The lone bright spot occurred in the fourth inning, when Edwin Encarnacion crushed a 1-2 pitch from right-hander Kevin Millwood and sent it over the wall in left.

Encarnacion is just one homer shy of 40 on the season. If he reaches that mark, it would represent the fourth time in club history the Blue Jays have had two different players accomplish the feat in back-to-back seasons. Jose Bautista hit a Major League-best 43 homers in 2011.

The two-run shot was the only damage the Blue Jays could muster against Millwood, who was dealing with tightness in his shoulder for most of the game. Despite that, he still managed to get through five innings having allowed just two runs on two hits.

"I think it was more them getting themselves out," Millwood said. "I threw it pretty much where I wanted and the ball was moving pretty good. I guess they weren't expecting 85-86 [mph]."

Toronto has managed to score a total of 23 runs during Romero's past 12 outings, a troubling trend that isn't making things any easier on the fourth-year lefty.

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.