NEW YORK (AP) — Facing Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded hardly fazed Ricky Romero. Because what the Toronto pitcher saw earlier in the game, now that was truly scary.
Romero got right back up after a frightening line drive flattened him, twice retired Rodriguez in dicey spots and led the Blue Jays past the New York Yankees 5-3 Friday night.
The game took a dangerous turn in the third inning when Mark Teixeira scorched a line drive directly at Romero’s head. The left-hander somehow managed to catch the ball inches from his face, and the impact sent him sprawling backward on the mound.
“It’s one of those things where you just react. I don’t know how I reacted, but had enough time,” Romero said. “He absolutely smoked that ball, there’s no doubt about it.”
“I guess there’s an angel next to me right there,” he said.
Romero was down for a moment, and Toronto infielders and plate umpire John Hirschbeck went to check on him. The crowd of 40,830 gasped when the replay was shown on the videoboard and Teixeira mouthed “wow” in the dugout.
“I’m glad I didn’t hit him. I’m glad he caught it,” Teixeira said. “If he doesn’t get his glove up, then it might’ve been ugly.”
Never rattled, Romero recovered quickly and struck out Rodriguez to end the inning.
“Absolutely not. I got back up and made pitches,” he said. “Obviously, you leave happy and nothing crazy happened.”
Romero was even able to joke about it after the game.
“I’m athletic, I’m athletic,” he said, laughing. “I knew I had it all the way.”
Jose Bautista hit his AL-leading ninth home run and J.P. Arencibia also connected for Toronto. Speedy Rajai Davis returned from the disabled list and stole two bases, then scored when reliever David Robertson botched a first-and-third pickoff play and made a wild throw.
Robinson Cano hit a pair of solo home runs for the Yankees, including a shot in the eighth inning. New York went on to load the bases with one out, but Derek Jeter struck out and Nick Swisher grounded out.
“Can’t say we didn’t have our chances because we had a lot of them,” Swisher said.
The Yankees stranded a season-high 11 and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
A winner on opening day, Romero (2-3) had gone 0-3 in four starts since. Toronto hitters hadn’t helped much during that drought, scoring a total of only four runs in those outings.
This time, the Blue Jays gave Romero an early lead and he made it stand — even if he wasn’t able to stay on his feet the whole way after Teixeira’s liner.
“If it doesn’t hit his glove, I’d be scared to think of what might have happened,” Toronto manager John Farrell said.
Romero escaped a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the fifth to preserve a 3-2 lead, thanks to shortstop Yunel Escobar’s slick fielding. Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion helped create the jam when he dropped Swisher’s line drive and threw it away, costing Toronto a chance at a triple play.
But Escobar ranged into short left field to backhand Teixeira’s looper, and followed by gliding into the hole to start a double play on Rodriguez’s grounder. Romero punctuated the neat play with a shout, twice slamming his fist into his glove.
Cano homered on reliever Shawn Camp’s first pitch in the eighth. Octavio Dotel fanned Jeter, then Jon Rauch retired Swisher and closed in the ninth for his fifth save.
Bautista, who led the majors with 54 home runs last year, lined a two-run shot into the second deck in left field for a 2-0 lead in the third.
Freddy Garcia (1-1) had not allowed a run in his other two starts this year, going six innings each time.
After Garcia struck out Juan Rivera with the bases loaded to end the top of the fourth, Cano led off the bottom half with his seventh home run, pulling the Yankees within 3-2.
NOTES: Toronto is 4-1 on its 10-game road trip to Texas, New York and Tampa Bay. … Cano had his seventh career multihomer game, and first since exactly a year ago. … Bautista walked twice, giving him a team-record 28 walks in April. Carlos Delgado drew 26 in April 2001. … Robertson, raised in Tuscaloosa, Ala., pitched for the first time since a tornado devastated the area. He said his family back home is OK. … Toronto DH David Cooper went 0 for 4 with a walk in his big league debut. … Davis was activated before the game. He’d been out with a sprained right ankle.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)