Ricky Romero will make a pre-season start once more after today, but it’s hard to envision him being able to pull his spring out of the fire if this afternoon’s outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates goes tits up. So, with that in mind, I’m going to live blog every pitch of today’s outing, which can be heard via this page at this page at

Sound about right? OK, then, let’s do this…

First Inning

John McDonald, newly acquired from Arizona, is in the lineup for the Pirates, which… isn’t going to help Romero if he can’t throw strikes. So are the regulars for the Jays, who cares?

Romero actually gets ahead of the first batter, Starling Marte. He throws a first pitch strike– no, really– and then gets a foul before Marte slaps the ball to right field for a single.

Marte steals, and Romero throws a ball to start off batter number two, Felix Pie– though Mike Wilner and Dirk Hayhurst on the broadcast are incredulous about the call. Pie bunts Marte to third, then Gabby Sanchez grounds out to plate the run.

Romero gets ahead of Pedro Alvarez, but on pitch two he connects and singles up the middle.

He starts off with a ball inside to catcher Mike McHenry, but follows it up with a strike, then a hard ball to left is caught spectacularly by Rajai Davis. That ends the inning, and while a couple balls squeaked through for hits, it was pretty good for Romero. He was efficient and got ahead in counts. John Lott tweets that it was 13 pitches and ten strikes– not bad, but the aggressive Pirates certainly didn’t make it terribly difficult, as noted by Dirk Hayhurst on the broadcast.

Second Inning

As John Lott tells us in the National Post that J.A. Happ appears to be heading north with the Jays– as a long man, ostensibly, thanks to the roster spot opened by Brett Lawrie’s placement on the DL– Romero steps back onto the hill to face Garrett Jones, now with a 3-1 lead.

Romero starts Jones with a ball, and manages to work his way to his first three ball count– 3-2– before Jones hits a double off the wall that gets, according to the broadcast, a significant lift from the wind.

Next up is right fielder Jordy Mercer, who gets himself a four-pitch walk. Ruh-roh. Mercer was taking all the way on pitch four and he missed badly, we’re told, eliciting a visit from Pete Walker. Johnny Mac stands in next with a runner on first.

Fifth straight ball starts the at-bat for McDonald, aaaaand then ball six with a sinker. He finally hits the zone to make it 2-1 with a called strike, before going to 3-1 with a ball missing high. Wilner comments on Romero’s body language, and… yeah, not good. But he comes back with a strike and McDonald hits it out to centre, but he’s out on a nice catch from Bonifacio in centre.

Jonathan Sanchez, the pitcher, is up for the Pirates and attempts a bunt on the first pitch, fouls it off, then “successfully” sacrifices himself on 0-1.

Romero quickly goes up 0-2 on Starling Marte, who then fouls the next pitch off. A high curveball follows– “Ricky just not quite finishing that slow curve,” Hayhurst says of Romero’s mechanics– but on the following pitch Marte strikes out swinging. A bit of a hiccup in the middle of the frame, but Romero has himself another fairly efficient inning. The totals belie that, as he threw 22 pitches, 11 for strikes, and getting to face the pitcher certainly helped, but seven of his final eight pitches were strikes (per Wilner) so… it’s going fairly well.

Third Inning

A quick bottom of the second for the Jays gets Romero right back out into the thick of it– at least, as much as this Pirates skeleton crew offers– set to face Pie, Sanchez and Alvarez to start the third. This kind of crucial start in an otherwise meaningless game, by the way, makes me think about how silly it is that fans and writers talk so much about certain pressure situations in the game, as though these guys don’t face pressure all the way up the ladder to the Majors.

An ugly four pitch walk to Pie opens the third. Ugh. And then it’s ball five to start off Sanchez. Romero follows his bounced first pitch with a strike, then a ball high. Romero gets Sanchez to 3-1, then it’s ball four. “Nine pitches, eight balls,” says Wilner, and it’s chat time, as Arencibia comes out to the mound.

As Wilner and Hayhurst talk about Romero’s occasional inability to finish his pitches, as well as the psychological difficulties he’s going through, Ricky strikes out Pedro Alvarez on a 90 mph cutter. He then follows it up with a first-pitch strike to McKenry for his fifth straight strike.

McKenry comes up with an RBI single to right field, as I get an interesting comment on Twitter from fan Mark Pytlik, who says that Romero “looks even worse whenever warming. He’s throwing five feet wide in every direction.” He adds that “he’s bounced about six warmup pitches to the plate and sent JP lunging high for another half dozen.” Hmmm.

No matter, though, as Romero gets out of the walk-created jam with a double play courtesy Adam Lind, who snagged a shot from Garrett Jones and tagged McKenry. Seventeen pitches, eight strikes that inning for Romero, tweets Barry Davis. It’s 52 pitches, 29 strikes in total, John Lott adds.

Fourth Inning

A couple of interesting tweets as the Jays were doing whatever they were doing at the plate in the bottom of the third, as Richard Griffin says that Romero “has touched 90 mph a couple of times,” which… he’s always averaged higher than that, though I suppose it’s early. And then there’s David Waldstein of the New York Times, who tweets “Vernon Wells is here, said he was always quietly a Yankee fan, even in Toronto and LA.”

Well then, there goes that legacy.

A couple of quick outs for Romero as I was typing all that. Hayhurst suggests it’s the liberal use of his changeup that is helping him, as he again is having a bit of trouble with finding the strike zone with anything else.

Back-to-back changeups to Jonathan Sanchez– and then a third! The Pirates would seem to be doing Romero a big favour here by hitting their pitcher, but then Sanchez doubles off the wall on a fourth straight change.

Ten strikes on thirteen pitches so far in the fourth, Wilner announces. No need to dance around this Pirates lineup, apparently, but then Romero misses with fastballs at 91 and 89 before getting what should have been an inning-ending ground out, but Adam Lind drops the throw from Mark DeRosa. No need for a throw, says Hayhurst, as the runner Sanchez was plenty close enough for DeRosa to have tagged.

Romero starts Alvarez with a couple of balls, perhaps shaken by the error that extended the inning. Alvarez fouls, then Marte gets picked off, but stays alive long enough for Sanchez– who, incidentally, we ominously compared Romero to on the last DJF Podcast– to score.

The inning is over, and it’s 18 pitches, 12 strikes, according to Wilner, so… Romero continues to be not job-losingly bad.

Fifth Inning

Congratulations are in order for Ricky Romero, as he’s actually made it to the fifth inning, which a lot of people– myself included– would probably not have bet on an hour-and-a-half ago. With apologies to Scott Lewis, the Pirates haven’t exactly made it difficult, but full credit to Romero. Pie, Sanchez, and Alvarez are due up in the fifth.

First pitch ball, followed by a strike and a foul from Pie. He then hits a pop-up that falls in behind third base, but heads for second and is thrown out by Mark DeRosa. And that’s it! Darren Oliver comes into the game and Romero exits– not particularly happily, Wilner and Hayhurst (and Dave Bidini) note.

Romero was on a 90 pitch count, but he leaves having thrown only 75 pitches, 44 for strikes. That was good for four and a third innings, in which Romero gave up six hits, three walks, three runs (two earned), and struck out two.

He was solid enough– which is perhaps the reason for the quick hook, as the club got him out of there before he had a chance to have a confidence-crushing blow-up fifth– and probably did enough to solidify his spot on the club come Opening Day, provided things don’t go haywire again in his minor league start on the weekend. But that doesn’t mean he has a job in perpetuity, though, and he’ll have to do better in the Majors– especially against real lineups.

That’s also it for the live blog, because, with apologies to Dustin McGowan obviously Romero was the story. Thanks for following along!

Comments (130)

  1. No Game Threat with a picture of Johnny Mac?

  2. God… this could get messy.

  3. Well, I can’t pretend you’re not giving all of us exactly what we want.

  4. “it’s mostly been high water, filled with heck…”

  5. How the hell do we listen to this game for free!! Every time I go to the MLB website to listen, it asks me to pay $20. Am I crazy!?

  6. go to the regular mlb site, register, then try and log in… worked for me last week

  7. If any one is interested, here is a link to the complaint filed by MLB against BioGenesis:

  8. well.. at least there was a point in the game where 100% of his pitches were strikes..

  9. Ugh.

  10. The Wilner over optimism is starting to get really annoying.

  11. Google “MLB Media Player”, go to that page, and then select the ‘jays vs philles’ feed.

  12. the grounders are a nice sign….just sounds like they found a couple holes, and hes getting strikes in there….all good signs

  13. Stoeten’s gonna shit on me for this.. but is anybody else just a little more dissapointed Lohse has been picked up now?

  14. Sorry, Jays vs. Pirates. You can listen to Toronto feed or Pirate feed.

  15. Why dont you guys just buy MLBtv..its only a 100 bucks. 124 for the premium.

  16. 10 of 13 strikes in the first. Looks not negative to me.

  17. Melky Cabrera singles on a pop up to pitcher Jonathan Sanchez.



  19. Where’s Stoeten? STOETEN! Get your hairy ass in here..

  20. There are a lot of Dirty Sanchez’s on this team.

  21. Lind Doubles off a lefty, all is right with the world once again.

  22. Man, if J.P.A. and Lind are anything near good hitters this year, this offence will be scary good.

  23. I want my money back…. ;)

    Aaron Cibia is hitting well… maybe he cracks .240 this year?

  24. Dirk: “I must have led the league in mound visits” haha

  25. Homer: Woo hoo!
    Carl: Oh, don’t look so proud. That was wind-assisted.

  26. So if happ makes the team it looks like the last bullpen spot is cecil vs. jeffress. It looks like jeffress is going to be the last cut.

  27. Got JPA, Reyes, Eddie and Morrow on my fantasy team this year…is 260 25 hrs too much to ask of JPA? I think not if he can keep this approach…

  28. pitched himself out of a jam instead of imploding like all spring, another good sign.

  29. Playoffs????/

  30. Live Blog? There’s a word for that…

    It’s called Twitter.

  31. So Happ will relieve Romero’s first regular season start/blowup. Then Ricky gets optioned to AAA and Lawrie comes off the DL. Makes sense.

    • Is it time to give Romero the “Doc Halladay” treatment and just leave him in Florida in single-A to re-start a minor league progression back to the majors next year?

      • +1, but as a 2-3 month project getting him back THIS year

        • I suspect the length of the project will be based almost entirely on Ricky’s ability to actually re-discover the ability to pitch again. I’m like you though, I would much rather it be a project that is successful for a July-ish call back up.

  32. annnnd here comes the woe.

  33. Lind’s defensive saves Romero…welcome to bizarro world 2.0

  34. Ricky RomeROFL

  35. Two innings in a row he has pitched out of a jam, although, he did get himself into them….so ya know….at least he looks better then he has most of the spring…..maybe he can turn it around… still a believer.

  36. He’s already got more outs today than I thought he would. Still, I’ll wager he doesn’t get out of the 4th.

  37. Where’s Susan Sarandon? He needs to through his eyelids like the Lava Lizards of the Galapagos.

  38. Rod Barajas???

    Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2013 New York Yankees!

    • WTF?!? I thought JPR was a “special” advisor to the OTHER New York semi-professional baseball team!


  40. Haha Wells said he was always quietly a Yankees fan while in Toronto and LA. I don’t care, but what would possess him to admit that? There’s no benefit to him.

    • He thinks that will ingratiate himself to the people of New York. And it might. Until he plays below replacement level baseball for a couple of games.

      • Oh I’m sure that’s what it is, but hell, say you were a fan as a kid, when growing up you dreamed of being a Yankee, etc. Don’t say you were a fan while playing for other teams! Hilarious.

        • hahaha…i thought he’d say something like this.
          It’s gonna be a real disappointment to him to play with the current yankees after elevating them all those years they were good

    • He must’ve been pretty melancholy when he hit that walkoff

  41. Why didn’t he just … aah, fuck it.

  42. Congrats Vernon, you get to relish the idea of being a Yankee all while you personify their (albeit temporary) demise in ’13, Thanks for giving us a reason to be a lot less ashamed of the meatheads who were gonna boo the hell out of you anyways.

    • I don’t think one is a complete meathead for booing a former Jay-turned Yankee. After all, there’s something to be said for opposing the Yankees on principle. Wells had a no-trade clause, after all, so he had a choice.

  43. This Romero outing is going a lot like Drabek’s outings before he was sent to the minors in AAA.

    He’s constantly playing with fire with a K/BB ratio hovering around 1 or worse.

    The ERA of this start might look okay. But the peripherals are garbage. And this is an “improvement” over his previous spring training starts. Ugh.

    • Yeah this is seriously “5th starter” type stuff. Which would be fine if he was some guy making league minimum with potential to get better.

      But if we actually made the playoffs, could you ever send this guy out there? At any point he could suddenly throw 5 balls in a row.

      • If we make the playoffs, the struggling “5th Starter” likely won’t see action. See: 1993- Morris, Jack.

      • When Happ is clearly the better pitcher, I don’t buy this he’s ok for a 5th starter argument. You always go with the option that gives you a chance to win more games. If Romero has a long leash if he stinks it up in his first few starts I’m gonna be livid. Giving away games when there’s better options is not only stupid but irresponsible.

        This was a poor to mediocre outing today at best against Pirates backups. Imagine what an Angels, or Rangers, or Tigers starting lineup would do to him.

        • “When Happ is clearly the better pitcher”

          Ya – not so much, maybe this spring, but, ya know, those games mean shit

          they are both….ok to suck level pitchers.

        • Well said FrankTheCat.

          I have yet to see a good argument for keeping the walk machine on the ML roster.

          Are people actually worried that being sent to the minors will be any worse for his confidence than his spring training performances?

          • no, im just worried about over Hyped Happ

            HES NOT THAT GOOD

            I 5.35 2 years ago, and 4.67 last year, and everything thinks that we will be sunk if he doesn’t start over RR

            FFS People – both options suck, but at least RR has a below 3era season, just 2 years ago that can show most baseball fans that he can be a top lvl pitcher. Go with the one who has proven he can be that guy, and let him sink or swim over the guy that has always been a 4-5th guy.

            • If I’m going by what I’ve seen all last season and this spring, I’ll take the proven 4-5 guy in Happ, than the guy who’s looked like a 6-7 guy the last year. Romero has been absolutely atrocious this spring, I hope as much as anyone he turns it around, but why let him do it in games that count in the standings, bring him back up when he’s ready.

              • I think you are forgetting how awesome Ricky was in the spring of 2011 – how did that reg season go for him again? Then he was lights out in 2012 spring, and we know how 2012 reg season went.

                He needs to fail up north before i will let go of my feelings he should go north……but like I said, he sucks, so does JA, but Ricky should have a chance to prove he sucks in Toronto first.

          • It’s 6 of one, half-dozen of the other. Before the season is done, Romero is going to get some major league chances. Might as well be right at the beginning. I’m not impressed with this start either, but he’s got to get a couple regular season chances.

            • bingo

              unless he shits the bed on the weekend, hes going north

              • Judging by ERA is pretty misguided Coach LB.

                Happ’s peripherals were quite a bit better than Romero’s last year.

                Happ’s spring shouldn’t make anyone excited. But Romero’s spring has continued a poor trend.

                • Ricky has been the better pitcher over the past 4 years – yes happ was better last year, but so what. Ricky has the higher lvl stuff when playing on his game.

                  He gets short rope, he hangs himself and happ comes up, or he gets back to at least League average and then happ is saved for depth if something bad happens, period.

  44. how anticlimactic!

  45. Seriously, Romero’s ‘job-no job’ status can’t solely be based on this one outing? Talk about small sample size.

    • He’s so close to the edge (over a much larger sample size) that at some point one start could be considered make or break.

      • That’s just stupid. His (recent) body of work indicates he is not that good – one outing (good or bad) doesn’t change that, especially looking at process over results. That’s like demanding Morrow get sent down to minors after not getting out of 1st inning against Rangers last year (right after shutout of Angels).

  46. although im not sold on the idea of starting Happ over RR, im also not sold on the idea that it isn’t a good idea. They both suck compaired to the rest of the rotation, but then again, what are we expecting from them? All we ask is that they get us as close to the 6th inning without giving up more then 3 runs per start right? in the area of 4.5 ERA, that would give this line up a shot at winning it.

    so that said, Ricky seemed better and maybe its the change in his spot on the rubber, IDK, but if he impoves even a little bit more in his last start this weekend, then he is in, and Happ is AAA bound IMO.

  47. Over’paid’bay is no longer a RedSox……do we see him with the yankees by tomorrow?

  48. I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying Wilner and Hayhurst…

    Add Jerry to these two and, dare I say it, it’d be almost perfect… and I’m not a Wilner fan.

    He’s improved. So very much.

  49. i guess he’s still our fifth starter, not a great outting but at least he made it to the 5th. i wonder how much effort romero is putting forth though? his fastball is hovering around 88-89 mph, really?

  50. This outing didnt really inspire much confidence in romero. It was ok but he has to have a better outing next time out or be on a VERY short leash if he breaks with the team.

  51. You can start live blogging the bottom innings now, thx.

    • Aaaand you can start understanding what this live blog was about before you make another ridiculous comment on a live blog that is tracking Ricky Romero, not the lineup

      • aaaaaand now that Romero is finished, Stoeten should have a lot more time on his hands, now shouldn’t he?

        • Theoretically, he does indeed have time, but that’s not what he created the live blog for. Now that he’s done talking about Romero, he moved on to the next thing on his mind, which is Vernon Wells (his latest post).

  52. “Ricky is fixed!” — no one

    I so want Ricky to get it together but it’s truly amazing that the bar is so low that today will probably be spun as a success.

    • Its a step in the right direction.

      • When you’re starting from rock bottom that isn’t much of an accomplishment.

        • is your glass half full or half empty……i know what my guess is

          let him fail a couple times in April, then the whole jays nation will be cheering as he hopes the bus for Buffalo.

          JA hasn’t pushed the issue enough, cause its only spring training ffs. Unless he just sucks and can’t go 4-5-6 Innings on the weekend, hes going north.

          • Glass half full is how you rationalize your ridiculous thinking, eh.

            • for the sake of the team he needs to at least get a shot at the big league games before his sent down. Super stud Happ isn’t going to be much better, just a fact.

              Ricky has shown he can be the better pitcher, he gets that chance to show it again, or hes back in AAA, not the other way around…

              • “for the sake of the team he needs to at least get a shot at the big league games before his sent down.”

                What does this mean? The rest of the team will quit if he is sent straight to AAA?

                “Super stud Happ isn’t going to be much better, just a fact.”

                Not a fact. And nobody is calling Happ a stud, just a better current option.

                “Ricky has shown he can be the better pitcher, he gets that chance to show it again, or hes back in AAA, not the other way around…”

                How’d that work with Adam Lind? The FACT is, he hasn’t shown an ability to be an effective major league pitcher for basically all of last season and all spring. Don’t even start with “spring training means nothing” – how do you figure he’ll just magically snap back into his 2011 ability?

  53. MCGOWAN???? craziness…

  54. Stroman is pitching today apparently

  55. Mcgowan 3 up 3 down! our new fifth starter!!!! lol

  56. You know you are approaching rock bottom when six hits and three walks over 4.1 innings is a “solid enough” outing.

    Fortunately, Josh Johnson is going to go 2010 styles on us, so he can compensate for our not-very-confidence-inspiring #5 slot cast of characters.

  57. This bullpen could be awesome with McGowan

    • lesson of last year’s playoffs = borderline starters make good relievers, even if they don’t obviously seem like good bullpen guys.

  58. Joke? No. Jokes have punchlines. Nice try, but you can’t hide your lack of rational thinking by playing the “joke” card. And maybe it is you who needs to relax, because I was simply trying to get you to see reason. That is all.

  59. Am I the only one more interested in McGowan’s outing that Romero’s?

  60. I was at the game, was a little shocked to see him pulled when he was. Why would you let Happ go six and pull Romero after 4 1/3?

    I was there mostly for Romero, but really interesting to see McGowan and Stroman pitching. McGowan looked good, but not great (no Ks but a couple of weak popups). Stroman’s a lot less intimidating than I expected – only hit 92 on the gun, and was pretty wild. Didn’t jump out as a guy who was major league ready.

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