DUNEDIN, Fla. — Ricky Romero didn’t pitch like a No. 1 starter.
A day after being named Toronto’s opening day starter, Romero gave up four runs on four hits and five walks working into the fourth inning before the Blue Jays rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 in a split-squad game for both teams.
"He never seemed to find a rhythm (to) use multiple pitches for strikes," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He had a hard time even establishing one pitch for a go-to strike if he fell behind in the count. It was a struggle for him, no question."
Romero said he felt fine warming up in the bullpen, but once the game started, "I just had no feel for my fastball or anything else."
"I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, just a bad day," Romero said. "It’s embarrassing to go out there and walk five guys. I’ve been known to walk guys before but this is really uncharacteristic of me."
Andrew McCutcheon doubled in the Pirates’ two-run first inning, scoring on Andy Marte’s double.
Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and Jose Bautista tied it 4-all in the fifth with a two-run double following singles by Rajai Davis and Mike McCoy.
In the seventh, McCoy singled off Ramon Aguero and Bautista walked with two outs before Travis Snider broke the tie with a single, and Aguero sent another run home with a wild pitch.
NOTES: Outfielder Scott Podsednik was scratched from Toronto’s lineup, one day after his spring debut, due to a flareup of plantar fasciitis, inflammation in his left heel. "It’s a little more tender than I expected it today," Podsednik said, "so we’re going to give it day, try to do what we can to calm it down, come back tomorrow and see where we are." The Blue Jays claimed left-hander Cesar Cabral from the Tampa Bay Rays. To make room for him Toronto placed right-hander Dustin McGowan (shoulder) on the 60-day disabled list. Brandon Morrow will start for the Blue Jays Sunday against Chris Bootcheck and the visiting Rays. With Toronto off Monday, Brett Cecil will pitch in his regular turn against Blue Jays minor leaguers.
Jays blow late lead; Tigers grab spring win
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LAKELAND, Fla. — This was a win that Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland could be proud of.
Brad Penny pitched five solid innings and pinch-hitter Ryan Strieby had a two-out single in the eighth, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 4-3 win over a Toronto Blue Jays split squad Saturday.
"There were a lot of good things in that game. Yesterday we won, but it was ugly. There were things to be disturbed about in that game," Leyland said of Friday’s 7-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. "Today, there really wasn’t a lot to be disturbed about."
For one, Miguel Cabrera continued to break out of a 4-for-23 spring start. After hitting a double and homer Friday, he manufactured Detroit’s first run in the fourth. He walked, went first to third on Brennan Boesch’s single, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Inge.
"If you want to be aggressive in a game, you have to be do that now in spring training," said Cabrera, who added a single to raise his batting average to .241. "You’ve got to keep working hard, keep playing, trying to be consistent."
Penny, who didn’t pitch after May for St. Louis last year due to upper back problems, held Toronto to two runs — one earned. He allowed leadoff hits in four of his five innings, but said he was pleased with a third healthy outing this spring.
"I was behind all day. I didn’t feel great, so I wasn’t throwing it real hard at all. My location wasn’t great either, so that’s not a good combination," said Penny, who has a 0.87 earned-run average in three starts. "It’s the third time I’ve faced hitters since May, so I’m pleased with it. As long as I’m healthy and throwing, I don’t really care about my results in spring, good or bad."
Detroit was trailing 3-1 in the seventh, but second baseman Scott Sizemore hit a solo homer and pinch-hitter Scott Thorman had a fielder’s choice.
In the eighth, pinch-hitter Ryan Strieby got a two-out single off third baseman John Tolisano’s glove, scoring Ramon Santiago, who had tripled.
Reliever Daniel Schlereth, out two weeks with a hamstring injury, pitched a perfect eighth for the win. Leyland called the outing a "clean inning." Al Alburquerque had a shaky ninth, allowing two hits while striking out the side for the save.
NOTES: Right-hander Jacob Turner and lefty Andy Oliver, Detroit’s top two picks in the 2009 draft, threw a simulated game Saturday morning and continued strong springs, enough that Leyland called them a future "1-2 punch." … Sizemore, competing for Detroit’s second base job while Carlos Guillen’s knee recovers, now has a team-best nine RBIs this spring. "Scotty had a great game," Leyland said. … Leyland was candid in saying he doesn’t expect free-agent signee Joaquin Benoit to repeat his dominant numbers from last season in Tampa Bay. Benoit had a 1.34 ERA in 63 appearances, holding opposing batters to a .147 batting average. "It’s almost impossible to do what he did last year," Leyland said. "That was so unbelievable. I had guys tell me they’ve never seen anything like that, all year long. I’m not expecting total, total perfection from him."