Rios denies no-hit bid in loss
Eighth-inning homer lone knock; hitters rack up 14 K's
TORONTO -- Alex Rios was not certain if he hit a fastball or a changeup for the home run to end Ricky Romero's no-hitter in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. He just knew that it was something up.It was a changeup on a 2-1 count. And Rios made it change direction, suddenly, and sent it over the left-field fence. It was the only hit by the Chicago White Sox and gave them their only runs in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before a crowd of 12,167 at Rogers Centre. "To tell you the truth, I don't even know what it was," Rios said. "I didn't know if it was a changeup up or a fastball up. I guess I just put a good swing on it." There was an interesting twist to this because Rios, who was claimed off waivers last August from the Blue Jays, has been booed constantly through the first two games of the four-game series. Other than Carlos Quentin's fly out to center field in the eighth inning, Rios was the only White Sox batter to hit the ball hard against Toronto's left-hander. Rios' first two at-bats were hard-hit balls to the shortstop. Rios said he was trying to avoid getting too deep into the counts against Romero and trying to hit the fastball. "I got a good pitch to hit," he said. "I wasn't trying to get deep into the count, I was trying to get my fastballs and hit them." The home run came after A.J. Pierzynski was ruled to have been hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. The Blue Jays said the ball did not hit him. "I looked on film, no," Blue Jays catcher John Buck said. "I guess the name of the game is to get on base and produce runs. Maybe he felt he didn't have a chance to hit it so he just got on base any way he could. "I think every single player has done that in a situation. Usually, it's kind of the end of the game and you're trying to get on base. I don't know if I really fault him for it. I was just surprised he got away with it ... he's so good at selling that type of stuff. He's a [heck] of an actor, I guess." After Rios' second homer of the season, Romero (1-0) settled down to retire the final three batters on ground balls. He finished with a career-best 12 strikeouts. "He was the best guy we've faced all year long," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Kevin Gregg took over in the ninth to pick up his third save. White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (0-1) allowed nine hits and four runs in six innings, using 116 pitches. Romero needed only 101 to go two innings longer as he allowed two walks. "Gavin was good," Guillen said. "It's a lot of pitches, 100-plus in five innings, hopefully he'll cut down a little bit. We continue to throw the ball good. Romero was better than we were today." The Blue Jays scored twice in the third on Vernon Wells's double and Lyle Overbay's single. Edwin Encarnacion doubled in two runs in the fifth. That was all Romero needed, although the extra two runs proved valuable. "We hit the ball hard four times," Guillen said. "One by Quentin, three by Rios. He grounded out twice to shortstop but he hit the ball good. And he hit the ball out of the ballpark, but Romero threw the ball excellent. "You've got to tip your hat. This guy threw the ball good. Nothing you can do about it. We didn't have that many good at-bats. Obviously, the reason is he threw the ball very, very effectively." Quentin had a short answer to Romero's outing: "Good stuff." Andruw Jones elaborated. "He had his fastball, his changeup, his curveball, his cutter, he had all his pitches going for him good and he kept us off balance. He threw a terrific game." "He had command of his curveball, his changeup, and I didn't see too many cutters, sliders, but he had command of those two pitches," Gordon Beckham said. "And he could throw his fastballs for strikes. You know, you've got to tip your hat. He was good tonight, he was real good." As for Rios being the one to break up the no-no, Beckham said, "We didn't really care who broke it up, as long as we broke it up. Maybe we should start [booing Rios, as the Rogers Centre crowd has been doing] everywhere we go because he's really done real well for us and we want him to continue to do it. He's gone through a lot so it's good to see." Rookie White Sox reliever Sergio Santos was an infielder in the Blue Jays Minor League system when he was Romero's teammate. "You could tell from the first two hitters that he pretty much had his stuff on tonight," Santos said. "He was attacking. He was in the strike zone with offspeed pitches, fastballs, everything, and so he was in a groove and he was just riding it out." When he was Romero's teammate, the left-hander was struggling. "The difference for him is to be able to get the changeup over effectively," Santos said, "because when he struggled, it was because with the offspeed pitches he wouldn't be able to find the strike zone. But from what I've seen, and I haven't seen him pitch in a couple of years, it's just night and day." Against the White Sox Tuesday he was lights-out.
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.