Posted by: Asher Roth | April 14, 2010

Romero Flirts with No-no, Fans a Dozen in Victory over ChiSox

Ricky Romero came on to the field this evening on the spongy new AstroTurf at the Skydome, and prior to his warm-up pitches, he let out a triumphant “HELLOOOOO?!” (See what I did there? His name kinda sounds like Ricky Ricardo… yup, I’ll be here all season).

But all jokes aside, it was a pretty swell day to be a Jays fan. As if it hasn’t been a great enough week already, what with the 6-2 record and all, today we got to see Ricky Romero pitch one for the ages. Just over a week into the season, we’ve seen two Jays pitchers flirt with no-hitters. On Opening Day, Shaun Marcum had a no-no through six, though his ended on a single.

But Ricky turned in one of the best pitching performances I’ve seen in my life (live). First off, he was working super-quickly, likely thanks to a great game called behind the plate by John Buck, who really did his research, considering they had not worked together in a regular season game before last night. From the first inning right to the end of the sixth, Ricky had a steady two strikeouts per inning. No, he did not strike out the side once, then strike out one in another inning – this was not an average, he LITERALLY struck out two per inning for six innings in a row.

His perfect game was spoiled with a walk with two outs in the third to Carlos Quentin, but Ricky was unphased. He was dealing consistent heat with a nasty curve ball and change-up, and he had a no-no going until the eighth inning, when A.J. Pierzynski came to the plate.

For those of you watching my live tweets last night, you’ll recall I said Pierzynski was once referred to as locker room cancer when he played for the Giants. We know he’s not a very likable guy – just ask former Jays Michael Barrett, who once sucker punched him in the face in an interleague game for show-boating after knocking him down at the plate. If only somebody did that last night.

Ricky’s first pitch of the 8th was in the dirt, and Pierzynski hopped up and down like it hit him. Now I’m not sure if he should have scored an Oscar for that performance, or maybe a spot on England’s national soccer team, but that kind of embellishment does not belong in baseball. Either way, the ball clearly didn’t touch him, and he was awarded first after a conference with the umpires.

Adding insult to injury, the next batter, ironically Alex Rios, smacked a no-doubter into the left field stands for his second of the year. That’s right – could a worse guy have possibly ended it for him? If we didn’t hate him before, there is definitely some serious hatred going on now. Ricky was pissed at himself, but he recovered nicely, getting the next three batters to ground out.

In the ninth, Kevin Gregg finished what Ricky started with style, by striking out yet another two batters, and getting Paul Konerko to ground out weakly. That’s right, folks, after fourteen hits the night before, the Sox struck out fourteen times last night. Only starter not to strike out was – Alex Rios. I guess you gotta hand it to him. In the meantime, Gregg looked unhittable. Take note, Cito. Looks like you may have a solid closer after all. His name is not Jason…

Jays bats were pretty solid last night too. John Buck, Edwin Encarnacion and Vernon Wells all hit doubles (Vernon hit two!), while Edwin, who is starting to look pretty comfortable on defence, also knocked in the first two runs of the game. Lyle Overbay also had an RBI single to bump his season batting average to .100. Jose Bautista was also hitless. Nothing like a leadoff man that hits .161 for you. Yikes.

But this day was not only sweet for Ricky’s performance. As most of you likely know already, earlier in the day, the Jays FINALLY locked in the shortstop of the future, signing 21-year-old Cuban prospect, Adeiny Hechavarria, to a four year, $10 million dollar deal.

We’ve already gone into how awesome this signing is in previous posts, but I’ll delve a little deeper. First off, for those who say “What a rip off for an unproven kid!”, consider that $4 million of that was a signing bonus, and I think he deserves that JUST for picking the Jays over the Yankees. And to those who say he’s still overpaid, consider that the Jays are only spending $4 million on their starting rotation – it’s about time they poured money into something other than Vernon Wells.

In addition, as Cito pointed out, the kid has been through a lot. Defecting from Cuba is no small feat. It means that Hechavarria, who is apparently close with his family, had to leave them behind to pursue his dream. Talk about potential emotional turmoil. But as some have pointed out, because he’s 21, he is a little more mature than the average prospect.

To those thinking, “But Alex Gonzalez is doing a great job!” let’s think rationally for a second. Last year, Marco Scutaro hit 5 homers in April. Gonzo has 4 right now. Last year, he had five. My point? He’s an admirable plug for the position right now, but people are saying that with his lanky frame and strong arms, Hechavarria could be the next Alfonso Soriano. As much as I dislike Soriano, I’ll take a strong defensive shortstop who can hit 30+ homers any day of the week. After all, when is the last time the Jays had a quality starting short stop?

I literally can’t remember. And no, Tony Batista does not count.

Anyway, Hechavarria starts the year in their minor league camp, then he should move on to Single-A, and hopefully make Double-A by the end of the year.

Before I go, one last thing. Yesterday, Sportsnet and TSN both reported that Ozzie Guillen was chirping the Jays, saying after Opening Day that fans should keep coming out to boo Alex Rios because there haven’t been so many fans there the last few years.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think he was chirping them, I think he was actually trying to say it would be nice if more fans came to games. Now, I only read the quotes, and did not hear his delivery, but it sounds to me that our beloved Canadian sports networks are trying to turn the MLB into as much of a drama shit-show as the NHL.

Speaking of the NHL, the playoffs start tonight. But I know you’ll all be watching John Danks take on Brandon Morrow at the ‘Dome tonight, right?

@amgr86

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