09/04/09 12:21 AM ET
Blue Jays drop series opener to Yanks
Romero struggles early, offense can't close the gap
By Larry Millson / Special to MLB.com
They fell behind the Yankees early, and their comeback efforts fell short in a 10-5 loss before a crowd of 22,773 at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays have won only seven of their past 20 games at home, where they are 34-33.
Rookie left-hander Ricky Romero (11-7) couldn't duplicate his escape act against the Red Sox last Saturday, when he limited the damage to three runs over 5 1/3 innings in a loss at Fenway Park. The Yankees scored four runs against him in the first inning, two of them unearned because of right fielder Travis Snider's error on Hideki Matsui's bases-loaded single.
Snider tried to come up throwing but came up with no ball in the glove, and he had to chase after it as the runners rounded the bases and Matsui made it to third.
Romero allowed seven runs, five earned, on six hits with six walks while striking out seven in 4 1/3 innings on an inglorious night for both starters. New York's Chad Gaudin could not keep the prosperity of a five-run lead and coughed up three runs in the fourth before being replaced by Alfredo Aceves (10-1), who gratefully accepted the winning decision.
"Ricky, in the first inning, he was up in the strike zone, walking guys," manager Cito Gaston said. "He settled down and got the ball down pretty much the next few innings. That's the way he's got to pitch -- keep the ball down in the strike zone. Especially with that team, they're very patient."
Gaudin, presumably trying for a spot on the Yankees' postseason roster, gave up four hits, three walks and three runs, and hit two batters in 3 2/3 innings.
The Blue Jays came back to pull within two runs, but the Yankees scored three in the ninth on a pair of two-out home runs off Jason Frasor to put it away.
Alex Rodriguez, whose committed an error on Marco Scutaro's bouncer to third in the Blue Jays' two-run sixth, hit his 24th homer of the season. Jorge Posada then hit his 20th of the season. It was Posada's fourth hit and third and fourth RBIs of the game.
Romero is now 1-4 with an ERA of 7.41 in seven starts against the Red Sox and the Yankees this season. He thinks he knows the reason for those numbers against the top two teams in the American League East.
"I think I'm a bit too hyped up," Romero said. "Today I was telling the trainer it was probably the best I've felt in a while. The ball felt like it was coming good out of my hand. Those situations, as a young pitcher, I've got to learn how to deal with it. Try to settle down. I think it comes with experience."
Romero believed his command of his fastball was lacking at times.
"When I was down in the zone, you could see the results," he said.
"He has to pitch like he pitched the second, third and, I think, fourth innings," Gaston said. "He got the ball down and got them out. He made some of them look a little bit off, reaching and not very comfortable."
As a former outfielder, Gaston knows how Snider felt about his first-inning blunder.
"He and I talked about it, and I've been there," Gaston said. "It's hard to describe how you feel. You feel really, really bad inside, and embarrassed. It seems like you're never going to get to that ball when you're running after it. But as I told him, if he plays long enough, it'll happen again."
Snider said "it feels like 10 minutes" that he was chasing the ball.
"I think it was more a physical mistake," the rookie said. "I was paying attention, I was ready for the play. It's one of those things where you come up throwing and don't have the ball in your glove."
After the game, Snider talked to Romero, his teammate in the Minors.
"You try and put those things behind you," Snider said. "Me and Rick, we're pretty close. I gave him a hug and said, 'I`m sorry about that.' "
The Blue Jays did come back from being down 5-0 and 7-3, which Gaston considers encouraging for a struggling team.
"It is," he said. "If we did not do anything, it certainly would not be encouraging. But they showed a little fight."
As for Frasor, Gaston said, "He's been pretty much lights-out for us out there in the bullpen. He's probably been the best in the bullpen we've had all year. He gets two outs and couldn't close it out. I guess he's entitled to have one bad inning."
Romero had a bad inning to start the game, allowing two walks and three singles in the first. Matsui's three-run single cleared the bases after Snider's mistake, and Posada also hit a run-scoring single. The Yankees scored again in the fourth after two walks and Melky Cabrera's single.
The Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fourth with a walk, a single and a hit batsman. Raul Chavez, whose leadoff double was wasted in the third, singled for one run. Scutaro hit a sacrifice fly to shallow center, and Aaron Hill's single cut the lead to two runs. Gaudin was then replaced by Aceves, who ended the inning by striking out Adam Lind.
Romero walked the first two batters in the fifth, and Rodriguez scored one of them with a single. One out later, Posada singled in a run, and Brandon League replaced Romero.
The Blue Jays scored twice in the sixth on doubles by Snider and Chavez, and Rodriguez's error.
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.