video thumbnail

TOR@BAL: Arencibia belts a grand slam in the seventh

BALTIMORE -- It was a long time coming, but Ricky Romero can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Toronto's struggling left-hander came through in one of his final starts of the year to get the monkey off his back and avoid taking sole ownership over a dubious franchise record.

Romero snapped a 13-game losing streak, while J.P. Arencibia recorded the second grand slam of his career in a 9-5 victory over the Orioles on Monday night in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Camden Yards. The win also snapped Toronto's seven-game losing streak after the club dropped the first game of the twin bill, 4-1.

"It feels good; it wasn't pretty from my side, but I battled out of some jams," said Romero, who allowed four runs in five innings en route to his first win since June 22.

"I think we made a deal out of [the streak], even I did, just kind of wanted to get it out of the way. I'm glad it's out of the way now and just get ready for the next start."

Romero entered with the longest losing streak in the Major Leagues this season and the longest single-season mark in franchise history. One more loss would have resulted in breaking a tie with Tom Underwood (1978-79) and setting the team record for most consecutive losses at 14.

The lengthy stretch in between victories had clearly taken its toll on the Blue Jays' Opening Day starter. At times, he appeared at a loss for answers, but as the losses piled up, Romero always held himself accountable and never shied away from the media.

It was a trying time, but Romero and the Blue Jays ensured on Monday night that it's not a storyline that will carry over into next season. Instead of dealing with the potential distraction, he can relax and attempt to regain the type of stuff that made him one of the most feared pitchers in the American League.

"It has, obviously," Romero said when asked whether the losing streak had mentally worn on him. "It's not really so much the wins and losses, it's the way I've pitched all year, which hasn't been good. I think the thing that I've been mostly complimented on by my teammates, and my coaches, [is] I've never backed down from any of the starts.

"I've gone out there, I've taken my hits and in the end, when I'm able to sit back and reflect on this year, I think you'll be able to look at those moments and all this stuff you learn, come back next year and just be stronger."

Toronto's offense did its part early in the game to provide Romero with some breathing room. Edwin Encarnacion got the production started with a two-run shot, his 41st homer of the year, to right-center field off left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. Toronto kept pouring it on in the second as Arencibia hit a sacrifice fly and Anthony Gose followed later in the inning with an RBI single to left.

The early 4-0 lead provided some much-needed comfort to Romero, but it would prove to be short-lived as Baltimore cut the lead to two in the second on a two-run single by Robert Andino. With the momentum in the Orioles' favor, the club climbed even closer in the fifth with another run before really putting Romero on the ropes in the sixth.

Romero allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base. Manager John Farrell then went to the bullpen for right-hander Brad Lincoln, but all of a sudden, Romero was only a couple of hits away from losing his 14th consecutive game.

For a few minutes, it appeared as though that would happen. J.J. Hardy greeted Lincoln with an RBI single to left, which put the go-ahead run in scoring position as the bases remained loaded with nobody out. It seemed inevitable the game was about to get out of hand, but Lincoln struck out No. 3 hitter Adam Jones.

The theatrics continued in the next at-bat as Chris Davis hit a high fly ball to left field. Gose camped underneath it and unleashed a cannon shot to the plate, which beat the charging Taylor Teagarden by a couple of steps to end the inning.

The Orioles would go on to strand a total of 10 runners in a game where they had plenty of chances but weren't able to take the lead at any point.

"We had our opportunities," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "Had some good people up. A lot of good at-bats to set that up to get to that point. There's two parts to that equation. One is setting up the potential and the other is trying to carry it through."

The Blue Jays then put the game out of reach in the following frame. They loaded the bases, but almost blew the opportunity until Arencibia sent a hanging 2-1 slider just over the wall in left. The second grand slam of Arencibia's career -- and 17th homer on the season -- gave the club some breathing room and silenced the energetic crowd.

"It's pretty impressive the atmosphere that they have going here right now," Arencibia said. "It's probably the closest I think I've been to a playoff atmosphere other than at home when our stadium's packed. He left a pitch up and I was able to hit it out of the park, but that was a lot of fun to play in that kind of atmosphere."

Romero picked up his first victory after a span of 15 outings which saw him post a 7.42 ERA. It was a rare sign of support from his teammates as well, considering Toronto scored a total of 24 runs in Romero's past 13 outings.

MLB.com Comments