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News » Washburn out-duels Perkins in M's 2-0 win

Washburn out-duels Perkins in M's 2-0 win

Washburn out-duels Perkins in M's 2-0 win
Ten minutes after yesterday's 6-2, series-clinching win over the Detroit Tigers, T-Pain's "Buy You A Drank" boomed over the stereo system in the Blue Jays locker room as players packed for their trip to Cleveland.

Into that celebration strutted Ricky Romero, grinning.

Adam Lind walked by and high-fived him while catcher Rod Barajas stood and applauded.

But fellow starting pitcher Jesse Litsch had already gotten to Romero, celebrating the rookie southpaw's first major-league win by spraying him with shaving cream.

The Tigers-Jays series capper was the first pitching matchup in major-league history between two first-round draft picks making their first career starts. Rick Porcello, Detroit's top pick in 2007, was in control until the Jays' four-run outburst in the sixth inning ensured Romero was going to come out of the double debut with the win.

"I'm here now," said Romero, 24, the Jays' top pick in 2005. "Hopefully I'm here to stay for a long time."

Romero said he didn't sleep much Wednesday night, waking up every few hours to check the clock as his major-league debut crept closer. Add the pressure of trying to perform in front of his proud parents and two younger siblings who flew in from Los Angeles and Romero said the game actually settled him down.

"I was really calm," he said. "I think I was more nervous warming up. Once I threw the first pitch, I was like, 'All right, it's just Baseball.'"

The Tigers scored two runs in the third. Curtis Granderson hit a two-out homer to left and Marcus Thames followed that with a triple when his drive off the top of the fence in right caromed back into Alex Rios' face. Thames then scored on a Magglio Ordonez single.

But beyond that, Romero looked more like the confident pitcher who finished spring training than the erratic thrower who started it. The Tigers totalled seven hits against him, while he struck out five, walked two and hit one with a pitch.

Early this spring, Romero's control problems grew so extreme that pitching coach Brad Arnsberg had to intervene to keep the club from shipping him to minor-league camp. Two weeks of fine-tuning Romero's technique ensued and, within two starts of his return to the mound, he emerged as the leader in the competition for the final two spots in the starting rotation.

Catcher Michael Barrett said Romero got in a bit of trouble by throwing too many strikes early in at-bats. By the third inning, the Tigers knew to expect good pitches early, so they started swinging and got four hits in that frame. But the Tigers managed only one single after Romero started mixing his pitches differently.

"We decided to change up the game plan a little bit," Barrett said. "For a young pitcher to be able to stop the way he's pitching and go to another way is a credit to him and I think it made the difference."

For Cito Gaston, the win was simply a logical next step in Romero's progress.

"The kid pitched like you guys have seen him pitch down in spring training his last four or five starts," the manager said. "He just seems to get better all the time."

It is the first time the Jays have won a four-game series to open a season, not that local sports fans have noticed.

After nearly selling out the Rogers Centre opening night, the Jays struggled to attract spectators in the next three games. Yesterday's crowd of 15,297 was actually more than 3,000 larger than the previous evening, but still sparse, even by the Jays' standards in recent seasons.

mcampbell @

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 10, 2009

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