Story: Romero’s debut powers Rays to third straight win
ST. PETERSBURG – Enny Romero was justifiably exhausted – both physically and mentally – after Sunday’s game.
Making his major league debut, the 22-year-old allowed just one hit and four walks in 4 2/3 innings, as Tampa Bay defeated Baltimore 3-1 at Tropicana Field.
Just a few days ago, Romero was sitting at home in the Dominican Republic. But after the Rays’ 18-inning marathon win over the Orioles on Friday, Romero tweeted that he would be available to pitch. On Saturday, he received his promotion for what began a long day.
“(My agent) called me and said, ‘Hey, you have only one hour to go to the airport to go to the big leagues,’” Romero said of the experience. “… My father took me to the airport, he cried, and my mom, too. It was a long day.”
The anxiety wouldn’t subside, either. Not on the two hour ride from Orlando or when he was trying to sleep.
“The first pitch, I was nervous, but after that, I breathed and threw the ball,” Romero, who made all but one of his 28 starts for Double-A Montgomery, said. “It’s the same as the minor leagues. Here, Triple-A, Double-A, it’s the same.
Perhaps what set Romero’s debut apart was the implications the game would have on the American League Wild Card standings with Tampa Bay entering Sunday in the top spot, just a game ahead of third-place Texas. But Romero kept his cool, combined with a Rangers loss, to put the Rays two games ahead in the standings.
“We’re playing one-game series throughout,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the standings. “We won Sunday’s series, we have to win Monday’s series and keep moving forward.”
Romero got some help early on from his offense, beginning with a leadoff home run from David DeJesus for the game’s first run.
“It was just what we needed to get our young pitcher a little room there,” DeJesus said about the bomb.
There were also big plays from the Tampa Bay defense, like a calming double play in the first and a Michael Morse flyout in the fifth that may have scored a run if not for hustle and the outstretched arm of Wil Myers.
But whatever it was that helped Romero, he still garnered the respect from his teammates.
“Phenomenal,” Brandon Gomes called the outing. “He’s got a great arm, obviously, but to keep that poise and attack that great lineup was just phenomenal.”
“We’re excited to see his future,” DeJesus added.
Romero, the No. 5-ranked prospect in the Rays system according to MLB.com, was in good company when it came to Sunday. The last two Tampa Bay left-handers to make their first career start on Sept. 22 were David Price in 2008 and Matt Moore in 2011.
“It’s kind of wild the way history has repeated itself in that regard,” Maddon said. “They’re all left-handed, they’re all about the same size. It’s fun to watch that we could bring up someone from the minor leagues, under those circumstances against a very good team and get that kind of result.”