Romero improves, but Blue Jays drop nightcap

Romero improves, but Blue Jays drop nightcap

Romero improves, but Blue Jays drop nightcap
NEW YORK -- Ricky Romero looked poised to snap his personal 13-game losing streak by working his way out of a number of self-inflicted jams on Wednesday night, but he ultimately walked away with a no-decision, extending his string of consecutive starts without a victory to 15.

The Blue Jays' 2-1 loss to the Yankees in the nightcap of a doubleheader in the Bronx was hardly on Romero, however, as Toronto's bats showed few signs of offense just hours after being silenced in the matinee, spoiling a strong effort from the left-hander.

Romero left with the game tied at 1, but Toronto's bats couldn't capitalize in a key spot and the club had no answer for Ichiro Suzuki, who put New York ahead for good with a clutch single in the eighth inning.

"He's a talented player, obviously, a Hall of Fame-type player," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Ichiro. "He seems to have a flair for the dramatic, and that was the case again today. ... He's one heck of a player."

Blue Jays lefty Aaron Loup was tasked with facing Ichiro in the eighth with one runner on, two outs and the game tied, but he couldn't put the left-handed-hitting veteran away, as Ichiro slapped a single to left field for the go-ahead hit. The run was charged to Steve Delabar, who took the loss to fall to 4-3. After going 3-for-4 in New York's 4-2 matinee victory, Ichiro went 4-for-4 with four stolen bases in the nightcap.

"I go up to the plate thinking that I'm going to get a hit every time I'm at the plate," Ichiro said through an interpreter. "The results were different today, and I'm not really sure what the difference was, but I do go up with the mindset that I'm going to get a hit this at-bat."

Ichiro collected three of his hits against Romero, who, despite issuing five walks, pitched well enough to win and kept his team in the game.

Romero's struggles this season have been well documented, but other than the walks, he was pleased with his performance and felt he took a step in the right direction. The 27-year-old felt he settled into a groove as the game went on, which was evidenced by his improved control in the later innings; four of Romero's five walks came in the first three innings.

Romero said he was staying on top of the ball and was able to repeat his delivery, something he said he has had trouble with throughout this season.

"Obviously, you want to go deeper into the game and you aren't happy with the five walks, but there were some good walks, meaning you didn't give in to some hitters in some situations," Romero said.

"Any time you come in here, it's not easy facing that lineup."

The left-hander said he wasn't thinking too much on the mound, which is something he has struggled to control when getting in pressure-packed situations, as he was on Wednesday.

Romero found a way to contain the potent Yankees offense after finding himself in a several tough spots, stranding a pair of runners in the first, second and fifth innings.

The lefty worked through the third and fourth with relative ease but allowed back-to-back one-out hits in the fifth to put runners on first and second for slugger Alex Rodriguez. Romero struck out Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson -- both on curveballs -- to escape the inning and keep the score tied at 1.

"There were a number of occasions where he made a big pitch, whether it was to get a strikeout or a ground-ball double play," Farrell said.

"He bent, but he didn't break today."

Romero said he had confidence throwing his secondary pitches -- which Farrell said had better overall action -- in any count, which allowed the lefty to generate some swings and misses. He had 10 swinging strikes, marking the first time he has had back-to-back starts featuring double-digit swinging strikes in more than three months.

"It was finally giving that late bite and fooling some hitters; it's a good sign," said Romero, who worked six innings and allowed one run on seven hits while striking out five.

After winning eight of his first 15 starts this season, Romero hasn't been victorious since June 22 and his 13-game losing streak is tied for the club record.

Romero, who has walked an American League-high 99 batters -- second most in the Majors -- has talked with teammate Brandon Morrow about finishing the season strong and heading into the offseason on a positive note.

"Just having him and other guys in the staff -- talking to them -- it has definitely helped," Romero said.

The Blue Jays were held to three hits on the night and managed just a second-inning run against starter David Phelps, who lasted 6 2/3 innings.

After six quiet innings, Toronto threatened Phelps in the seventh, chasing him from the game after loading the bases on a single, a walk and a Derek Jeter throwing error.

But the Blue Jays wasted the opportunity to tie game. New York turned to lefty Boone Logan and the Blue Jays pinch-hit Moises Sierra for Anthony Gose, but the rookie grounded out to second base to end the threat.

Toronto combined to score three runs during the day-night doubleheader -- its first of the season -- and has lost 13 of its last 17 contests at Yankee Stadium.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.