As if a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees wasn’t enough. In case a complete silencing of the Washington Nationals didn’t prove the Tampa Bay Rays mean business. Sergio Romo had the exclamation point.
The Tampa Bay Rays finally made the rest of Major League Baseball pay attention, at least for a minute, yesterday. Not only did Nathan Eovaldi, et. al. out-scrap Max Scherzer in a 1-0 victory to extend their win streak to five. Kevin Cash drew attention for using Jose Alvarez at first base while Chaz Roe dispensed of Anthony Rondon. And then, Sergio Romo.
A few weeks ago, I dispensed of Romo as the Tampa Bay Rays closer. Past his prime. Well, yesterday, Romo proved me wrong. Coming in with one out and the bases loaded, he got a weak popup and a strikeout to save the game. Then, he made a statement.
Three weeks ago, Michael A. Taylor stole third on Romo with the Nats leading 9-2. There goes one of baseball’s unwritten rules. A veteran like Romo wasn’t going to forget that. Striking out Taylor to end the game wasn’t enough. I think he said something like “run your butt back to the bench, dude”. And the teams bid each other farewell near home plate. A little pushing, a little yelling. And Kevin Kiermaier standing in the back reacquainting old relationships. It made for good TV and sparks a little sports radio fodder for today.
Was this a 2008 Jonny Gomes moment? Those Rays were not going to be pushed around.
Was Sergio Romo making a personal statement against Michael A. Taylor? Or, was he letting the Nationals and everyone else know that these Rays are going to compete? Back in 2008, Jonny Gomes made sure Shelly Duncan and the New York Yankees knew that those Rays meant business. Racing in from right field, Gomes made Duncan understand that a cleats up slide on Akinori Iwamura wasn’t appreciated. In spring training. We all know how the 2008 season went.
Now, I’m not suggesting these Rays are going to make a World Series run this year. They are a little too green. But, Sergio Romo the closer, or Sergio Romo the opener, is a veteran that can help nurture the young team. And, in doing so, he can help make the lives of other competing teams just a little more miserable. And, he did that a couple of ways yesterday. He got the outs he needed to preserve the win and he put his stamp on the ending.
Earlier this month, he showed his appreciation for his Tampa Bay Rays teammates, buying gifts for everyone in the clubhouse. He told Tampa Bay Times beat writer Marc Topkin:
"“The guys that were here last year, I told them, dead honest, you helped me put some of the pieces back together, and there is no price on that in my opinion. Those guys, and the guys I played with this year, they gave me my sanctuary back. … They allowed me to be me, and I don’t know how easy that is.”"
Sergio Romo brings passion. I didn’t mind how the game ended yesterday. I loved the win. And, sometimes it’s ok to show a little pizzazz afterward. No harm caused. The Rays will now take a day off and wait for the Astros.