Blue Jays 5 Rays 0
TORONTO — Ricky Romero had a devastating changeup Wednesday that helped the Toronto Blue Jays end a four-game losing skid.
Rod Barajas, Adam Lind and Scott Rolen hit solo homers and Romero allowed four hits while striking out seven over eight innings in a 5-0 victory over Tampa Bay, ending the Rays’ string at seven wins before a Canada Day crowd of 30,533 at the Rogers Centre.
“It was a big weapon today,” Romero said of changeup. “Rod called it a lot. We talked about it, if we were going to get beat we were going to get beat on our pitch. That was the biggest pitch today.
“Some people say it looks like a splitter and some people say it looks like a screwball. I know where it‘s going, but I‘m just trying to make it a quality pitch. Every off-season I try to work on that pitch, trying to throw the hell out of it when I play catch. It’s just getting better.”
Rolen also hit a single as he extended his career-high hitting string to 19 games. His sixth home run of the season came on the 108th a final pitch of the game for James Shields (6-6) and immediately followed Lind’s 16th homer. Barajas hit his eighth with one out in the seventh.
The Blue Jays came up with the big hits that have been lacking — including Marco Scutaro’s third-inning double that produced the first run — to score all their runs, four earned, against Shields who allowed seven hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings.
But the key was Romero’s (6-3) pitching as the left-hander showed the poise beyond that of the rookie he is. He used his changeup to good advantage.
“It’s just not your typical changeup,” said Barajas, who caught his second game since suffering a hamstring injury last Friday. “It’s more like a split-finger at times. It‘s got such hard bite. I’ve caught some pretty good changeups and his is right up there with the best I’ve ever caught.“
Toronto led for the first time in the series when Scutaro broke a 0-for-17 stretch his double in the third that scored Jose Bautista who was at first after a two-out infield single to shortstop.
The Blue Jays scored again in the fourth after Lind led off with a double. He scored with one out when Lyle Overbay’s hard shot on a 1-0 changeup went between the legs of first baseman Carlos Pena for a two-base error.
Romero helped himself by picking off B.J. Upton after a leadoff walk in the first.
He also caught Ben Zobrist on an attempted steal in the fourth.
“What a performance he had out there today, he pitched a great game,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “It was just what we needed. He shut that team down over there and that‘s something because they have a really good-hitting ball club.
“We got some big hits today for a change.”
Zobrist also doubled in the second and had the only two Rays hits until Carl Crawford led off the seventh with a single.
After Evan Longoria’s fly out to centre, Pena singled to centre and Alex Rios had one of his all-too-frequent brain cramps. He threw to third where he had no chance to catching the swift Crawford. Pena took second on the throw.
A four-pitch walk to Zobrist loaded the bases and Pat Burrell co-operated by hitting a grounder to short for the inning-ending double play.
Jason Bartlett led off the eighth with a walk and was safe at second on Scutaro’s error on Gabe Kapler’s grounder to second. Scutaro juggled the feed from Aaron Hill and then took a tumble as he crossed the bag to leave runners at first and second with no one out.