Posted by: Jeremy | October 1, 2010

Romero finishes strong, beats Twins


Romero was strong in his final start, giving up just two runs over eight innings to win

Fourteen wins, 210 innings, a 3.73 ERA and best of all, a strong finish for a 25-year-old starter in his second season in the bigs? Yes please, I’ll take it. That’s what the Jays got from Ricky Romero this year, as he wrapped it up with eight strong innings in a 6-3 win over the Twins Friday night. Edwin Encarnacion added some punch for the second straight game, smacking three hits and driving in four runs, including three on a two-out, two-run homer off Jesse Crain to put this one out of reach in the eighth.

Romero gave up two runs on six hits and didn’t walk a batter to pick up the win, the seventh in his last nine decisions. After getting rocked in back-to-back starts by New York and Boston to start July, he finished 8-3 with a 3.75 ERA over 14 his final appearances. Fine numbers, and a relief considering he went 6-6 with a 5.36 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP from July 11 through the end of his rookie season after going 7-3 with a 2.96 mark up to that point. Case in point: Unlike last year, Romero stayed strong as the season progressed, and two rough starts near the midway point didn’t throw him into the tailspin that I, at least, feared at the time.

Despite pitching 32 more innings (210 to 178) than in 2009, Romero gave up less hits (189, compared to 192 as a rookie) and less home runs (14, with 18 last year). He posted a 1.29 WHIP, which was down from 1.52 as a rookie, and struck out 174 hitters at a rate of 7.46 per nine innings. If you ask me, all this adds up to him going 22-4 with a sub-2.00 ERA in 250 innings in 2011. Or something like that.

Back to this particular game, though: Aside from Romero and Encarnacion’s production, Toronto got three hits apiece from Lyle Overbay and John Buck, including a two-out RBI single by Buck to break a 2-2 tie prior to Encarnacion’s three-run blast. Minnesota starter Carl Pavano hung tough with Romero to that point, leaving after seven before Crain let it get away.

The win is the Jays’ ninth in 11 games and the Twins’ seventh loss in eight, and though they’re locked in atop the AL Central, they aren’t doing themselves any favours when it comes to seeding in the playoffs. Not that they’ll get out of the first round either way, again. The teams play the third of the four-game set Saturday afternoon, with Shaun Marcum (13-8, 3.63) making his final start against Brian Duensing (10-3, 2.44).

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