Entering Tuesday night's game at Toronto, White Sox hitters had struck out only 30 times all season, the lowest team total in the majors.
Romero carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, racking up a pair of Ks in each of his first six frames. No White Sox batter managed to hit a ball out of the infield until the seventh. Romero's curve was untouchable, as was his change. The full arsenal was working. Chicago's lineup was plainly overmatched, a fact that led AJ Pierzynski(notes) to pursue non-traditional methods of getting on base.
Romero skipped a pitch in the dirt to Pierzynski leading off the eighth inning — not a terrible pitch, mind you, because AJ had been hacking at similar offerings all night. But late in the game with his team trailing 4-0, Pierzynski resisted the urge to swing. When the ball hit the ground near his feet, he began hopping as if an anvil had landed on his toe. But in fact, nothing had landed on his toe. Replays were clear. He had not been hit.
Nonetheless, Pierzynski turned and ran toward first base. Home plate umpire Tim McClelland failed to stop him. It's not the first time AJ has deked an ump, and it likely won't be the last. Jays manager Cito Gaston argued and McClelland's crew huddled, but no one overruled the original call — which, again, appeared to have been made by Pierzynski. Thus the Sox had their third base-runner of the game.
Romero found himself pitching from the stretch, and he soon fell behind Alex Rios(notes), 2-1. That's when he made his only real mistake of the night. Romero placed a changeup on a tee and Rios deposited the pitch over the left field wall, ending the no-hit bid. The next three Chicago batters were retired on groundouts, then Romero yielded to Kevin Gregg(notes) in the ninth.
This was his final line: 8.0 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 12 K, 1 HBP*. After two starts, Romero's ERA is 1.80, his WHIP is 0.67 and his Yahoo! percent-ownership is 38.0. Go get him.
"He may be the best guy we’ve faced all year long," said Ozzie Guillen.
Gregg pitched a clean inning to earn his third save, and he struck out both Gordon Beckham(notes) and Carlos Quentin(notes) in the process. He hasn't yet walked a batter this season, and he's decisively outperformed Jason Frasor(notes). If you're any kind of saves speculator, then you probably added Gregg last week.
And with that, we bullet…
• Scott Podsednik(notes) has minimal power, ordinary on-base skills, and he isn't much of an asset defensively. Nobody ever said he was a flawless player. But he's also swiped 30 bases in five different seasons (including '09), and he's leading the majors in steals right now. In the imaginary game, this makes him a person of interest.
Podsednik stole another base on Tuesday afternoon and went 2-for-4, raising his average to .452. It was his third straight multi-hit effort. He's batting near the top of the Royals' lineup, immediately ahead of Billy Butler(notes), master of the RBI double. For fantasy purposes, Podsednik's setup is excel—
Well, OK, maybe it's not excellent, but it's as good as any Kansas City player's setup can possibly be. And still he's only owned in 33 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Of course his batting average isn't sustainable, because this isn't 1874. Podsednik won't maintain the 120-steal pace, either, because this isn't 1982. Just accept the production while it lasts. No one should be surprised if he swipes another 35 bags. He can almost be the guy that Julio Borbon(notes) was supposed to be.
• Baltimore shuffled the lineup on Tuesday, batting Matt Wieters(notes) in the cleanup spot for the first time in his soon-to-be glorious major league career. Ty Wigginton(notes) got the start at second and homered twice. The O's wasted a solid start from Brian Matusz(notes) (7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 K) when the bullpen allowed a parade of hits in the eighth. No one really knows who Baltimore's closer is on any given day, not even manager Dave Trembley. He'd like it to be Mike Gonzalez, but that wasn't going to happen on Tuesday.
"Reynolds had a Reynolds day. He struck out in the second, struck out in the fourth, and unloaded in the seventh."
Naturally, Reynolds then struck out again. But Jonathan Broxton(notes) was pitching in the shadows and hitting 99 mph on the stadium radar, so the circumstances were unusually difficult. Clayton Kershaw(notes) earned the win for L.A., but he walked another five batters and needed 111 pitches to get through 5.1 innings.
• Nick Johnson(notes) hit his first homer of the season on Tuesday, going 2-for-3 in the Yankees' home opener. He also walked twice and scored three runs. We'll remind you that Johnson is batting second in one of baseball's best lineups, and his home games are played in the league's most hitter-friendly park. He's just 19 percent-owned.
• While we're discussing Yankees, we should also mention that Andy Pettitte(notes) frequently made Angels hitters look ridiculous on Tuesday. He struck out six and earned his second win in as many starts. New York's schedule isn't particularly intimidating in the weeks ahead, so there should be a few spot start opportunities.
• With Carlos Gonzalez(notes) sidelined due to hamstring issues, Seth Smith(notes) found himself atop the Rockies' batting order. He led an 11-run assault on the Mets, going 2-for-5 with a double, homer and three RBIs. Brad Hawpe(notes) left the game due to tightness in his left quad, so the Smith/Fowler situation may not be a worry for a few days.
• Comments are a better place whenever we mention Doug Fister(notes), so here it is: Fister pitched eight shutout innings against the A's, striking out four. There's still no need to add him, though. Tuesday's win was a quality-of-opponent thing.
No handshake for you: Octavio Dotel(notes) eventually picked up a save against the Giants, but he began the ninth by allowing a double to Nate Schierholtz(notes) and a two-run homer to Eugenio Velez(notes). The final out was recorded on a missile off the bat of Pablo Sandoval(notes). Details here.
Everybody hurts: Cliff Lee(notes) threw a 63-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, and a simulated game is scheduled for Friday. The Seattle Times reports that "the plan is to have him back May 1 or May 2." ... Early signs point to Jimmy Rollins(notes) (calf) hitting the 15-day DL on Wednesday. Be prepared for a multi-week absence. ... Not surprisingly, Carlos Beltran(notes) still hasn't been cleared to run. ... Ted Lilly(notes) will make a 60-pitch rehab start at Triple-A on Wednesday. "We'll see how he comes out of that," said Lou Piniella, "and see if he needs another one.'' ... Brandon Webb(notes) successfully played catch without hurting himself. So there's that. We still don't have a timetable for his return.
Bonus link: You'll find a thorough review of Jake Peavy's(notes) messy Monday outing right here at Pale Hose Pariah. The essential quote: "You just don’t want to see Peavy dipping in the high eighties too often. His fastest pitch was 92.5 MPH, and he sat at 89.9."
Photos via AP Images (Romero) and US Presswire (Podsednik)