Romero decent but Jays fall to Yankees

TORONTO – Well, the offence still isn’t very good for the Toronto Blue Jays, but at least Ricky Romero seems to have turned the corner.
The ace left-hander delivered a third straight solid outing Friday night, holding down the New York Yankees to three runs, two earned, on four hits in what ended up a 10-4 loss in the opener of a daunting 10-game homestand.
Though he’s still lost eight straight decisions, Romero (8-9) is finally starting to resemble himself again, recovering from a shaky second to last seven innings for the second outing in a row.
He retired 14 of his final 16 batters after allowing Robinson Cano’s RBI single in the third, closing strong and giving his team a chance to rally while he was out there.
“I’ve gotten back to that delivery I’ve been looking for,” said Romero, who’s been using a mechanical reminder from pitching coach Bruce Walton to help keep him straight. “The biggest thing I told myself after that bad game against Oakland (eight runs, 1.1 innings July 25) was that I needed to go back to basics, the basics of pitching.
“I know it sounds cliché but it’s just commanding that down and away fastball and that’s all I’ve done, command down and away and work off of that, and whatever secondary pitches I have, whether I have it or I don’t, I don’t panic. It’s been more attacking hitters, go hit my stuff, and I feel I’m plenty good enough and I proved it out there today.”
The same can’t be said for the Blue Jays’ depleted batting order, which couldn’t do much against the slop of Freddy Garcia (6-5) or the Yankees bullpen in losing their fourth in a row.
Even worse, Colby Rasmus re-aggravated a sore right groin in the eighth inning, is unlikely to play Saturday and is right now listed as day-to-day.
“It sucks that we lost, it’s not easy what we’re going through right now, I hate losing and I know the guys in this clubhouse do, too,” said Romero. “I’ve never seen so many players go in and out of this clubhouse in a year and the year isn’t even over yet, God forbid anybody else gets hurt.
“We’ve battled with what we’ve had and we’re not going to give up.”

THE BIG PICTURE: The slide continues for the Blue Jays (53-59), who lost for the 10th time in 12 outings before a crowd of 41,610. They’re now six games beneath the break-even point for the first time since finishing the 2009 season at 75-87, and with four games against the Chicago White Sox and three with the Texas Rangers to follow this three-game set with the Yankees (66-46), there’s a good chance they’ll dip well below that, too.

TAKE CARE OF THE BALL I: With two on and none out in the second, Jayson Nix dropped a terrible sacrifice bunt that had double play written all over it.
Catcher Jeff Mathis pounced on the ball quickly and threw to third, but Omar Vizquel, who had charged in on the play, wasn’t yet back at the bag and the throw sailed over his head. So instead of collecting one, if not two outs, Cano trotted home easily to open the scoring and Andruw Jones came around on Ichiro Suzuki’s run-scoring fielder’s choice.
“Omar crashes in that situation when ideally, if we’ve got a chance, we’re going to cut down the runner at third,” said manager John Farrell. “He was a little bit in no-man’s land when Jeff initially reacted to go right to third base, that’s when we saw that errant throw.”

TAKE CARE OF THE BALL II: In the third, after Nick Swisher led off with a single and moved to second on Mark Teixeira’s groundout, Cano followed with a single to right.
Anthony Gose fielded the ball and tried to get Swisher at the plate, but his laser of a throw was wide and flew to the backstop, handing Cano second base. Romero, who wasn’t backing up the play, managed to keep the damage there by striking out Jones and getting Nix to fly out.

TAKE CARE OF THE BALL III: With one on and two out in the eighth, Russell Martin hit a soft flair into centre that second baseman Kelly Johnson ranged back for but missed and had go off his head and deflect into left field.
“I don’t know what happened there, he’s probably scratching his head, too, maybe rubbing it,” said Martin. “I hit it off the cap so it probably had some weird spin on it. It obviously did something funny. It was not his most glorious moment, that’s for sure.”
Rajai Davis collected the ball and threw home, likely unnecessarily with Nix holding at third, giving Martin second base. That loomed large when Suzuki’s liner up the middle off Steve Delabar’s glove brought home both of them to make it 6-2.

THE ARMS: While the Mathis error certainly didn’t help matters, Romero hurt his own cause with two walks in the second inning. He had to fight through some command problems to keep the damage contained.
The key for him of late has been improved use of his fastball.
“We have (seen him turn a corner) and in large part with the conviction to his fastball,” said Farrell. “Even in the early innings when he mislocated some pitches, I thought he found a much better rhythm and when you look at the last three starts, it’s predominantly been because of the trust in his fastball.”
Delabar was attacking the strike zone when he got burned.
Teixeira turned on his first offering and hammered it to right for his 22nd homer of the season, a crucial blow that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead. The subsequent misadventures essentially put the game out of reach.
David Carpenter, called up from triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day in place of the injured Brett Lawrie, extended a club record by becoming the 32nd different pitcher used by the Blue Jays this season. It was rough debut as he was touched for Nick Swisher’s RBI double and Raul Ibanez’s RBI single before leaving the bases loaded for Brad Lincoln, who gave up a double to Suzuki that Davis appeared to have in his sights but missed, lost in the lights according to Farrell.
Carpenter was optioned after the game to make room for utilityman Mike McCoy.

THE BATS: After managing just three in Thursday’s 7-1 loss at Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays actually managed three consecutive hits in the fourth inning, the first time they did that since the previous Friday in Oakland.
Alas, after Yunel Escobar and David Cooper singled and Johnson followed with an RBI double, the hits dried up until the eighth inning, when Gose singled, stole second and third and then came around on Rasmus’s double play ball.
“I thought we had a very good opportunity to not only tie it but potentially go up in the fourth,” said Farrell. “We cut the deficit to one, men on second and third with just one out, but obviously (Omar Vizquel’s strikeout and Mathis’s comebacker to the pitcher) loomed large at that point.”
Combined with Johnson’s solo shot in the second, the Blue Jays managed to score more than two runs for just the fourth time in the past 12 games.

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