Romero in rhythm as Bulls keep it rolling
Enny Romero knows how to succeed in Triple-A baseball because he’s done it.
He knows how to succeed in the big leagues because he’s done that, too.
On Sunday, in the midst of a struggling season, the Durham Bulls lefty did the former and hopes it leads to another chance at the latter.
Coming off his worst outing of the season, Romero put together perhaps his best by allowing one run and pitching into the seventh inning as the Bulls beat Lehigh Valley 4-2 in International League baseball at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The last time he pitched, on Tuesday night at Toledo in a 12-4 loss, Romero allowed eight runs on six hits while recording just five outs.
By contrast, Sunday’s crowd of 7,987 watched Romero roll through the IronPigs lineup by consistently getting ahead on the count against Lehigh Valley hitters.
“That was great to see that Romero bounced back and pitched well,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He has struggled the last three or four starts, so that was good to see.”
Romero entered Sunday’s game with a bloated earned run average of 6.08 — this from a 23-year-old hurler considered one of Tampa Bay’s top prospects.
Last season, after spending most of the year at Double-A Montgomery, he threw eight shutout innings in his lone appearance with Durham. That earned him a spot start with Tampa Bay, and he delivered 4 ⅔ shutout innings while allowing just one hit on Sept. 22 at Baltimore.
Having seen that kind of success, Romero and the Bulls staff have searched for answers so he can find it again.
Romero said he and Bulls pitching coach Neil Allen may have found it during bullpen session between last Tuesday’s failures in Toledo and Sunday’s success against Lehigh Valley.
“Everything is better with my fastball,” Romero said. “Today I could throw every pitch (for strikes). I feel comfortable now.”
Romero served notice that things were different when he retired the first seven Lehigh Valley batters he faced.
By then, Durham had built a comfortable lead for him by scoring four runs in the second inning. Vince Belnome drove in the game’s first run with an RBI double to right-center field and Robby Price brought in the Bulls’ second run with a groundout.
Cole Figueroa pushed Durham’s lead to 4-0 with a two-out, two-run double.
Romero finally allowed a baserunner when Ronny Cedeno singled with one out in the third inning. With two outs, Leandro Castro singled before Tyler Henson drove in a run with a single.
Instead of fading, Romero locked in. He got Maikel Franco on a pop-up to first base to end the inning with Durham up 4-1.
That started a stretch where Romero retired seven more IronPigs in a row as Lehigh Valley wouldn’t get another baserunner until the sixth inning.
“I thought about throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes,” Romero said of that stretch. “I could throw my changeup for strikes today.”
A Figueroa error at shortstop allowed Lehigh Valley to score an unearned run off Romero in the seventh inning. With Romero having thrown 92 pitches, Montoyo removed him with two outs and Durham up 4-2.
Brandon Gomes gave up a hit but struck out four batters in a row. Left-hander Jeff Beliveau worked around a ninth-inning walk to record his sixth save and help Romero improve his record to 3-5.
“I’m happy now because I can throw strikes,” Romero said. “I am working to go to the Major Leagues and have good things come my way.”
NOTES: The Bulls and IronPigs conclude their four-game series with a matinee today at 1:05 p.m. Right-hander Matt Andriese (5-3, 3.92 ERA) starts for Durham against Lehigh Valley’s Brad Lincoln (1-3, 5.90). ... Pawtucket comes to town on Tuesday to begin a four-game series. ... Sunday’s crowd of 7,987 brought the weekend’s total attendance to 27,179 for three games between Durham and Lehigh Valley. That’s an average of 9,059. Durham’s season attendance average has risen to 7,266 in 28 openings.
Durham Bulls (35-23) 4, Lehigh Valley IronPigs (29-28) 2
|Castro, L, CF||4||0||3||0||0||0||0||.249|
|Murphy, Ji, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.245|
|Hill, K, C||3||1||0||0||1||0||0||.246|
|Cedeno, R, SS-2B||4||1||2||1||0||1||1||.272|
|Martin, E, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Castro, L 2 (9, Romero, Gomes, B).
TB: Cedeno, R 2; Henson; Castro, L 5.
RBI: Henson (21), Cedeno, R (17).
2-out RBI: Henson.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Franco; Rupp; Henson 2.
Team RISP: 2-for-7.
Team LOB: 6.
CS: Hill, K (3, 2nd base by Beliveau/Casali).
DP: 2 (Cedeno, R-Maruszak-Murphy, Ji, Maruszak-Cedeno, R-Murphy, Ji).
|Figueroa, C, SS||4||0||1||2||0||0||2||.294|
|Nix, J, 1B||4||1||1||0||0||1||1||.239|
|Gomes, B, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Belnome (11, O'Sullivan), Figueroa, C (9, O'Sullivan).
TB: Casali; Betemit; Figueroa, C 2; Belnome 2; Price; Christian; Nix, J.
RBI: Belnome (19), Price (11), Figueroa, C 2 (18).
2-out RBI: Figueroa, C 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Fontenot 3; Betemit.
GIDP: Christian, Casali.
Team RISP: 2-for-7.
Team LOB: 6.
E: Figueroa, C (4, throw).
DP: (Casali-Figueroa, C).
|O'Sullivan (L, 2-5)||6.0||7||4||4||3||4||0||4.36|
|Romero (W, 3-5)||6.2||5||2||1||1||4||0||5.50|
|Gomes, B (H, 2)||1.1||1||0||0||0||4||0||4.50|
|Beliveau (S, 6)||1.0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0.00|
HBP: Mahtook (by Martin, E).
Pitches-strikes: O'Sullivan 108-70, Martin, E 21-10, Neris 5-4, Romero 92-61, Gomes, B 21-16, Beliveau 19-10.
Groundouts-flyouts: O'Sullivan 7-3, Martin, E 2-0, Neris 2-1, Romero 8-2, Gomes, B 0-0, Beliveau 0-1.
Batters faced: O'Sullivan 26, Martin, E 5, Neris 3, Romero 27, Gomes, B 5, Beliveau 3.
Inherited runners-scored: Gomes, B 1-0.
Umpires: HP: Tom Honec. 1B: Max Guyll. 3B: A.J. Johnson.
Weather: 76 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 5 mph, In from CF.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.