Only 18 weeks have passed since San Francisco Giants pitcher Sergio Romo blew a fastball past the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in the bottom on the 9th to win the World Series for the Giants.
But when he took the mound for the Mexico team in the World Baseball Classic Thursday, he struggled. The San Francisco Chronicle reports Romo threw 26 “high-intensity pitches” before giving up a two-run double to Team Italy’s Anthony Rizzo, the Chicago Cubs’ first baseman, and got the 6-5 loss.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
And in the process, Romo became Exhibit A for why the World Baseball Classic is not considered a great idea among the people who are responsible for winning Major League Baseball games.
Thursday’s game at Salt River Fields, the spring training facility of the Diamondbacks and Rockies, was a lazy March afternoon at the ballpark. Italy and Mexico plodded along. None of the players looked like they were particularly at the top of their games….
Until the top of the ninth inning. That’s when a real baseball game broke out.
And that’s when Romo was asked to go from zero to 90, from March to October, in one half-inning.
He got the first out, then was hit hard. Dodgers infielder Nick Punto doubled. Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia singled. And then, with runners at the corners, Rizzo hammered a slider that Romo left up and out to the warning track. Left fielder Edgar Gonzalez got his glove on the ball but dropped it, allowing two runs to score and Italy to take the lead. Gonzalez, Adrian’s older brother, is listed as an infielder and looked it. He had earlier butchered another ball to left field.
“He’s been working out there,” said Renteria, the bench coach for the Padres. “In the Padres system, we used him everywhere. We feel confident he can do the job.”
The upshot was that Italy – an overlooked team made up of mostly Italian -Americans with only a few direct connections to the motherland – tagged Mexico with a surprising loss. Now the Mexican team is in a desperate situation going into Friday night’s game against the U.S. at Chase Field.
Romo was emotional coming off the mound, the Chronicle said. He had spoken earlier about how proud he was to be pitching for his parents’ home country, the article said.
Mexico plays the U.S. tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Finals will be played March 17-19 at AT&T park. You can check out the full schedule here.