Romano effective in front of family and friends

Romano effective in front of family and friends

NEW YORK -- On the third-base side of Citi Field on Sunday, amid the Mets fans clad in blue and orange, were multiple sections of people wearing Reds jerseys, specifically with pitcher Sal Romano's name and No. 47 on the back. Romano hails from 90 minutes away in Southington, Conn., and estimated that he had 300 members of his family and friends in the ballpark to watch his start.

Although he did not figure in the decision during a 10-5 Reds win over New York, Romano did not disappoint with two earned runs and eight hits allowed over five innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out six.

"I enjoyed the moment but once the game started, I just wanted to do my job," Romano said. "It was a special day for everybody and it was nice to have all the support here. It means a lot."

Romano was effective with 66 of his 97 pitches going for strikes, but also saw his departure expedited because the Mets were making contact and fouling pitches off.

It started with first batter Jose Reyes, who fouled off three two-strike pitches before he hit a leadoff single.

Romano K's Taijeron

"That's never a good start, but he was able to limit damage in the first and only give up one run," catcher Tucker Barnhart said.

Much of the contact against Romano was soft. With the exception of Norichika Aoki's lined double down the right-field line, light hits burned Romano. Among the three two-out singles that led to the game-tying run in the third inning was a soft roller against the shift by Travis d'Arnaud. Dominic Smith's hard grounder off second baseman Scooter Gennett's glove went for an RBI single.

"I battled every inning, but I was able to make some big pitches to keep a big inning from happening," Romano said.

Romano is 4-6 with a 4.54 ERA in 13 starts, but has found a groove lately. In his last five starts, he has a 2.64 ERA. Along with fellow rookies like Robert Stephenson and Luis Castillo, Romano is trying to show he belongs in next season's rotation.

"We're just feeding off of each other. It's positive things going into 2018," Romano said.

In his April 16 big league debut vs. the Brewers, Romano was clearly caught up in the moment, throwing too hard with 98-mph fastballs and lasting only three innings. On Sunday, he was composed and mixing his pitches. According to Statcast™, he mixed in 31 sliders, 12 changes and five curveballs.

"He was able to throw his changeup for strikes, called strikes," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "And he threw some really good breaking balls, both to finish hitters and to get back in the count. That's the sign of a guy that can start up here. He doesn't get himself in a corner."

On his lineup card, Price makes checkmarks when batters get hard contact, and he didn't make the checks very often on Sunday.

"I loved the stuff and the composure coming to his home area to pitch in front of a lot of family and friends. I thought he handled it beautifully," Price said. "It was great. He was attacking the zone. You're coming in against a team that beat us the first three games and knowing you want to impress in front of the family. He handled it really well."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.