Romero starts well, Rays score 3-0 win
Manager Joe Maddon said he would be more than pleased if Enny Romero, the 22-year-old lefty summoned to make his big-league debut as Sunday's starter, got the Rays through five innings with a lead.
Romero just about did, and with some dazzling work from the bullpen, and a little help from the offense, it was enough for the Rasy to take another step toward the postseason with a 3-1 victory over the Orioles.
The Rays improved to 86-69 and hung on to the top AL wild-card spot with seven games remaining, though the Indians won again to remain one-half game back, and the Rangers were playing to stay one game behind, followed by the Royals and Yankees. The Orioles dropped to five back and just about out.
With scheduled Sunday starter Jeremy Hellickson among the 11 pitchers the Rays used in Friday's 18-inning marathon, they made an organizational decision to summon Romero, who spent almost the full season at Double-A, making one Triple-A start.
And he delivered, walking four and allowing only one hit while pitching 4 2/3 innings, throwing 70 pitches, mostly fastballs in 93-95 mph range. Brandon Gomes finished the fifth, then the Rays used Gomes, Wesley Wright and Jamey Wright for one batter each in the sixth, with Jamey Wright stickin around for the seventh. Joel Peralta handled the eighth and Fernando Rodney the ninth.
There was one slight moment of concern in the ninth before a lively crowd of 28,974. The O's were down to their last strike when a routine fly to RF by Matt Wieters hit a catwalk and became an RBI double and brought the tying run to the plate, but Rodney retired J.J. Hardy for the last out.
David DeJesus hit a leadoff homer, and the Rays added two more runs in the sixth, capitalizing on a bunt, a walk and wild-pitch, a sac fly, a clean single and a bloop single.
The Rays started the game with Evan Longoria, who was sick but came in to play defense late. And Desmond Jennings did leave with tightness in his left hamstring after the bunt single to start the sixth.
The Rays play their final regular season home game on Monday vs. the Orioles at 3:10 p.m.