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Romero's struggles continue vs. Red Sox

Romero's struggles continue vs. Red Sox

TORONTO -- Sitting on the bench inside the Blue Jays' dugout at Rogers Centre on Friday evening, manager Cito Gaston could only think of one way to sum up his club's recent performance against the Red Sox.

"They've been just kicking our butts -- it's as simple as that," Gaston said. "They've just been beating on us. We've played this team worse than any team in baseball."

This was before the Blue Jays absorbed a 14-3 throttling in their latest meeting with the Red Sox. Much of Toronto's home stadium was occupied by boisterous Boston fans -- on hand to witness another Jays lapse at home against their American League East rivals.

The brunt of Boston's blows was taken by Toronto left-hander Ricky Romero, who was left dazed and admittedly confused in the wake of his second abbreviated start in a row. In each of his past two starts, Romero has been unable to last beyond the third inning, leading to a pair of forgettable routs.

"I'm in shock," Romero said. "I'm just like, 'Is this really going on or is this a dream?'"

The harsh reality is that the Jays (43-44) have now lost seven in a row against the Red Sox in Toronto, representing the second-longest home losing streak in club history against Boston. Toronto is just 1-6 against Boston on the year and only 11-24 against the Red Sox dating back to Aug. 22, 2008.

In Friday's lopsided affair, Boston's 14 runs marked the most in one game against Toronto since the Jays lost 15-0 to the Orioles on Aug. 19, 2006. The Red Sox (50-36) churned out 14 hits, had 11 different players reach base and 10 different players cross home plate. And the bulk of the damage came within the first four innings.

"That was probably one of the worst games we've had all year for me," Gaston said.

Perhaps more concerning than the blowout loss, though, was the showing from Romero.

In just 2 1/3 innings, Romero was charged with nine runs (five earned) on five hits, ending with three walks and two strikeouts. Over his past two starts -- Romero's previous outing came on the road against the Yankees on Saturday -- the lefty has allowed 17 runs (13 earned) on 12 hits in just five innings.

The only explanation that Romero (6-6) offered was that he elevated a few pitches, though he added that his changeup has gone missing for at least his last two starts. Catcher John Buck echoed that assessment, and Romero insisted that there was nothing physically wrong with him.

"These past two starts, I've gotten [hit hard]," said Romero, whose season ERA has climbed to 3.71 from 2.83 over his past five innings. "There's no other words to put it. It's pathetic. I just feel bad for the guys around me. I feel like I'm taking them out of the game early and it's on me.

"I feel 100 percent. My arm feels good. Everything feels good. I think that's why it's so hard to kind of take in these last two outings. You kind of take a step back and go, 'What's going on?'"

Things began to unravel for Romero and the Jays in the second inning, when the Red Sox pounced for three runs -- two on a home run from Bill Hall. Boston then ran to a 10-0 lead in the third, with seven runs combined against Romero and lefty Brian Tallet.

Kevin Youkilis brought home one run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. J.D. Drew later plated another with a grounder to first baseman Lyle Overbay, who misfired on a throw to the plate with the bases loaded. Romero then issued a walk with the bags full to hand the Red Sox a 6-0 advantage.

At that point, Gaston opted to turn to Tallet, who yielded a sacrifice fly to Hall before later giving up run-scoring hits to Marco Scutaro and Darnell McDonald. Tallet then gave up a trio of solo home runs -- to Youkilis, Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron -- to help the Red Sox to a 13-0 lead in the fourth.

Hall made it 14-0 with an RBI double off reliever Casey Janssen in the sixth inning. Needless to say, by the time the Jays mounted a slight rally -- John McDonald highlighted a two-run sixth with a solo homer off Red Sox lefty Jon Lester (11-3) and Jose Molina added a solo blast in the seventh -- it was far too late.

"[The Red Sox] are a fastball-hitting team, and we were falling behind," Buck said. "They were jumping on the fastballs once we kind of laid them in there. It's obviously not very fun to go through. Good thing it's only one game."

One that continued an unfortunate trend.

"They kicked out butts again," Gaston said with a shrug.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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