It’s not often that a pitcher will retire fourteen straight batters over the course of a start, and still have the show stolen from him by the opposing pitcher. it’s his opponent that everyone wants to talk about, but such is the case for Ricky Romero after his Toronto Blue Jays lost 3-2 to Michael Pineda and the Seattle Mariners.
Pineda, making his first Major League start in front of the home crowd in Seattle was positively dominant, hurling 95-97 mph fastballs that didn’t even need movement to fool batters. Of his 103 pitches, 74 were strikes, and of those, I counted 15 swinging strikes. That’s a swinging strike rate of more than 20%. Francisco Liriano led the league last season with 12.4%. But where Liriano has spent parts of five years in Major League Baseball, Pineda just turned 22 in January and was making his second start ever and it was against the Toronto Blue Jays, a notoriously good fastball hitting team.
Romero, for his part, pitched incredibly well, and if you could go back in time and allow him to change a single pitch, the outcome of this game would be completely different. Of course I’m talking about his first pitch to Ryan Langerhans in the third inning which was taken deep with Brendan Ryan already on first base, putting the Mariners ahead 2-0. Later in the same inning, Jack Wilson reached on a Jayson Nix error, and eventually scored thanks to a Milton Bradley single which was the last time a Seattle player got on base until the eighth inning.
It was also the eighth inning that finally found the Jays threatening to solve the Pineda enigma. Edwin Encarnacion collected his second hit of the game, a hard hit single to left and after Nix became Pineda’s seventh and final strike out victim, Yunel Escobar drew a walk to put two men on with only one out. A Miguel Olivo passed ball allowed both runners to advance a base before Corey Patterson singled to right and drove them home.
Patterson then advanced all the way to third on a steal attempt in which Olivo again erred, sailing his throw into shallow center field. Then Patterson attempted to tag up on a foul out to first base by Jose Bautista, but an alert Justin Smoak threw him out at the plate, leaving the newly arrived Jays outfielder to sort of walk into Olivo who was waiting at the plate with the ball. It was a disappointing end to a promising rally.
Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and J.P. Arencibia all went down in order in the top of the ninth at the hand of former Blue Jay Brandon League.
- In two games for the Blue Jays, Corey Patterson is 4 for 9, with a home run, a stolen base and wait for it, four RBIs.
- Yunel Escobar and Jose Bautista have gotten on base in every game they’ve played this season.
- On the West Coast road trip, Aaron Hill has gotten on base four times in 25 plate appearances; Adam Lind has gotten on base three times in 24 plate appearances. Both players have struck out a combined 12 times.
- Brandon League threw only eight pitches to collect the save tonight.