Stephen Strasburg’s early exit from Sunday afternoon’s series finale in Chase Field got all the headlines last night, but Washington Nationals’ left-hander Enny Romero was removed from the game with injury concerns too, after 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings in relief.
Romero, 26, worked around back-to-back, one-out singles in a 16-pitch, 12-strike sixth, then retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh before issuing a walk to Paul Goldschmidt.
During that at bat, Romero said after the game, his back tightened.
“I feel better now, but when I was throwing to Goldschmidt, the last few pitches, my back tightened up a little bit,” Romero said through a translator, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Especially the last two, I really felt it. I just felt like I couldn’t continue, so I decided not to.”
Romero landed on the Disabled List with a lower back issue last August, when he was still with Tampa Bay, but told reporters yesterday that he would wait and see how his back reacts after a day off today.
“That’s why we took him out, and a lot of times in this weather, you don’t know, but you get dehydrated because you don’t sweat, but you’re still perspiring. And so we took him out for precaution.”
Sunday’s outing was Romero’s second appearance of the series in Chase Field.
He took the mound in a 5-5 game in the ninth inning of the opener with the D-backs on Friday night and gave up a leadoff triple on a 99 mph 1-2 fastball up in the zone to A.J. Pollock.
Pollock scored the winning run after the Nats loaded the bases with back-to-back intentional walks, and Romero gave up a one-out, ground ball, walk-off single to right by Brandon Drury, who fouled off a 2-0 strike, then connected on a 100 mph 2-1 heater in the middle of the zone.
“You feel terrible for Enny because he was throwing the ball good too, and he got what we needed,” Baker said, “the ground ball, it’s just that [Drury] found a hole, cause that easily could have been a double play.”
Nine of Romero’s eleven pitches in that outing were fastballs, which sat from 98-100, but both hits came on his heater, prompting a reporter to ask if it was an example of why the left-hander needs to have more confidence in a second pitch.
“I know you’ve mentioned about in the long run, the need for him to have confidence in a second pitch. The triple was on a 100 mph fastball, but was that a case where if he’s not putting it exactly where he needs to it can still cause trouble?” the reporter asked.
“It can cause trouble,” Baker said, “but 100 miles an hour is 100 miles an hour. He is locating better, he got 2-0 on [Drury] and came back and threw a strike, you know, that’s saying something for his progress right there, and like I said, Drury found a hole.”
Opposing hitters have a .252 AVG on Romero’s fastball this season (636 pitches), a .286 AVG on his cutter (101), and a .500 AVG on his slider (66).