Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rookie Romero helps Rays beat Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG — It was around noon Saturday when Enny Romero finally got the shocking word, via a phone call from his agent, that the Rays were summoning him from his Dominican Republic home to make his major-league debut as Sunday's starter.

Expecting to spend another relaxing day with his wife and infant son, the 22-year-old prospect instead was in full scramble, with less than an hour to get to the airport. Having not thrown since his last minor-league game Sept. 13, Romero first headed to a nearby field to play catch for about 10 minutes with his brother. He then hurriedly packed a bag and got a ride to the airport from his teary-eyed father.

Next was a 2½-hour flight to Orlando, more than an hour in customs, then a two-hour ride in a town car to his St. Petersburg hotel. It was after 9 by then, and Romero's first night as a big-leaguer consisted of ordering a pizza and trying — mostly unsuccessfully — to force his eyes shut.

Sunday went a bit smoother.

Romero delivered coolly, calmly and impressively in working into the fifth inning, allowing just one hit. And with some dominant bullpen help, dazzling defense and just enough offense, the result was a 3-1 win over Baltimore that kept the Rays atop the American League wild-card race.

"That's about as clutch as you can get right there," reliever Jamey Wright said. "Coming out with no fear, going right after guys. I think he exceeded all expectations of what we were hoping for (Sunday). And that's a beautiful thing."

With seven games to play, including today's 3:10 p.m. home finale, the Rays remain a half-game ahead of the Indians but moved to two ahead of the Rangers. The Royals are four back of the Rays, the Yankees 4½, the Orioles five.

With scheduled Sunday starter Jeremy Hellickson among the 11 pitchers used in Friday's 18-inning marathon, the Rays decided to bring in Romero. Though he made just two Triple-A appearances (one start) after spending the season at Double A, they figured his mid 90s velocity would play well. But they were unsure enough that they also brought up J.D. Martin from Triple A to serve as a potential backup. "I had no idea," manager Joe Maddon said.

Romero's goal was to pitch with countrymen Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney, and when he walked in Sunday, a No. 45 with his name on it was hanging in the locker between them. "#DreamComeTrue," he tweeted.

Peralta gave him simple advice — "Have fun and throw the ball down" — and Maddon similarly said to just do what he did in the minors. Romero's warmup didn't go well — pitching coach Jim Hickey described it as "scattered" — and he felt the nerves as he made his first pitch, a 93 mph fastball.

"After that I breathe," Romero said. "Breathe and throw the ball the same as in the minor leagues."

Maddon said he knew they would be okay after Romero gave up a single to Manny Machado on his third pitch. "He was breathing well," Maddon said. "Machado rolled that ball into rightfield, no big deal. He got right back on the mound, not fazed by it at all. And he just kept looking that way."

He carried the 1-0 lead from David DeJesus' homer into the fifth, but after a fourth walk and a drive Wil Myers leaped to snare at the rightfield wall, Maddon had seen enough, going to the bullpen with two outs.

That kept Romero from qualifying for the win, but it worked out well other­wise. "The bullpen was ridiculously great," Maddon said.

Brandon Gomes ended the fifth, then had a strikeout to start the sixth. Wesley Wright came in to get one, Jamey Wright another. The line for the sixth: three pitchers, three K's.

The Rays — with Evan Longoria ill and Desmond Jennings leaving with hamstring tightness — scored two in the sixth, and the relievers, despite a ninth-inning catwalk incident that scored a run, finished it off.

"I'm very happy," Romero said.

He wasn't the only one.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Three's company

For some reason, Sept. 22 is a big day for the Rays, as three lefties all made their first starts:

David Price, 2008

at Orioles, 51/3 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 3 K, 3 BB, Rays win 4-2

Matt Moore, 2011

at Yankees, 5 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 11 K, 1 BB, Rays win 15-8

Enny Romero

vs. Orioles, 42/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 K, 4 BB, Rays win 3-1

AL wild card

Rays 86-69 .555

Indians 86-70 .551—

Rangers 84-71 .542 1½

Royals 82-73 .529 3½

Yankees 82-74 .526 4

Orioles 81-74 .523 4½

Rookie Romero helps Rays beat Orioles 09/22/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 23, 2013 8:44am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the defensive: Heisman history not in Derwin James' favor

    College

    The lowdown on Derwin James? "No offense to (Michigan's Jabrill) Peppers (a Heisman finalist last year)," ESPN analyst Rex Ryan says, "but he only wished he was the player this kid was." (Monica Herndon, Times)
  2. Kevin Kiermaier: Return to action Thursday 'didn't set the world on fire'

    The Heater

    Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier's return from the hip injury that sidelined him since June 8 could have gone better Thursday in Port Charlotte. He broke two bats and went hitless in two at bats while playing for the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs.

    Kevin Kiermaier takes cuts in the cage during batting practice before the game between the Rays and Texas Rangers Saturday at Tropicana Field. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. What you need to know about Bucs training camp

    Bucs

    Bucs training camp is here.

    This morning was the first of 13 practices that are free and open to the general public, so we have all the details to answer your questions about where and when and so on.

    Dirk Koetter is nothing if not precise, with practices starting at 8:45 a.m. and running until 10:27. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Fennelly: It's high time for Bucs to take Tampa Bay back

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Welcome to the proving ground.

    Bucs training camp begins today.

    Hard Knocks and flop sweat.

    Work and more work.

    "We have a lot to prove,'' wide receiver Mike Evans (13) says. "We're good on paper, but we've got to do it." [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. HomeTeam 100: Players 1-10

    Footballpreps

    When he's not holding things down on the O-line, Nicholas Petit-Frere is holding his own in the classroom with a 3.7 grade-point average. (Andres Leiva, Times)