Blue Jays 3, Braves 0

Ricky Romero had another strong start on Saturday, pitching four

shutout innings and the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Atlanta

Braves 3-0.

It wasn’t perfect for Romero who struck out four, but also

walked four under windy conditions, but he said the key was that he

was able to pitch out of jams.

Romero was 13-9 with a 4.30 ERA last year for the Blue Jays,

pitching behind former Toronto ace Roy Halladay, who was dealt to

the Philadelphia Phillies during the offseason.

Romero is the only returning Blue Jays starter who had

double-digit wins last season.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston isn’t penciling in Romero for

opening day yet, but Romero has given up only one earned run in

three starts this spring and didn’t walk his first batter until

Saturday.

Romero suffered a strained oblique just three weeks into the

2009 season, but recovered quickly after making the team out of

spring training.

“He’s absolutely got a chance to be the ace,” Gaston said.

“He could have been Rookie of the Year last season if he didn’t

get injured. He’s at the top of the list.”

Romero said he is a completely different pitcher than the one

that made his debut last spring.

He struggled with his control and the wind against the Braves,

but he maintained his composure, something he said he had big

problems with last season. He got out of a first-and-third

situation in the second inning and walked Braves pitcher Tim Hudson

to lead off the third. Romero got a double play to end the

inning.

In the fourth, he walked the first two batters. Once again,

Romero settled down and got another double play grounder to get out

of the jam.

Romero was more proud of how he handled adversity than the four

shutout innings.

“Last year I would have folded right away,” Romero said. That

was only 12 months ago but it seems like a lot longer. Last year I

would have tried to go with something other than what I had that

was working. This time I went with what I had.”

As far as the weather and the fact that there always seemed to

be Braves on base, Romero said he was able to cope instead of

letting it get to him.

“You have to pitch your game whether it’s windy or there’s

runners on base,” he said. “I’ll keep working at it, but I have a

different feeling this year.”

Gaston has noticed.

“He got the outs when he needed to. It used to bother him, but

he’s got his confidence and he just keeps getting better.”

Braves manager Bobby Cox said that batters were coming back to

the dugout saying that Romero was practically unhittable.

“That guy was devastating,” Cox said. “That’s one of the best

sliders I have seen. Nobody could hit it. If he can learn to get

that pitch over, he’s unhittable.”

Hudson struggled in his four innings for the Braves, allowing

seven hits and three runs, but he struck out six and said he is

right on pace.

“I felt like I had my good stuff,” Hudson said. “I wasn’t

great, but it was one of those days when you realize there are

adjustments that need to be made. I feel good that I was able to go

four innings.”

Hudson missed almost all of 2009 after undergoing Tommy John

surgery.

Dana Eveland took over for Romero and pitched three shutout

innings with four strikeouts. Sean Henn and Rey Gonzalez each

pitched a scoreless innings as the Blue Jays allowed only five

hits.

The Blue Jays scored all three runs off Hudson. Travis Snider

opened the Blue Jays second with a double and scored on Brad Emaus’

single. The Blue Jays scored two more in the third.

Mike McCoy, Jeremy Reed, and Emaus each had two hits for the

Blue Jays. Melky Cabrera had two singles for the Braves.