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TOR@NYY: Romero strikes out six over seven strong

NEW YORK -- In the midst of what has become a frustrating season, Ricky Romero looked like a completely different pitcher on Tuesday night.

Following a start where he couldn't seem to locate any pitches, the Romero of old resurfaced in what will go down as one of his best starts this season.

Romero was assertive all night long and pitched seven strong innings, but in the end it wasn't enough, as a lack of run support proved to be the Blue Jays' undoing in a 2-1 loss to the Yankees.

"I felt aggressive, I definitely did," Romero said. "I felt like I was out there and I put everything away that I've worked on, and let it come naturally. That's what I did."

Romero's impressive outing came on the heels of a terrible start against the Tigers, in which he walked a career-high eight batters and appeared to be trying to guide the ball into the strike zone instead of letting loose.

The subpar start in Detroit had some members of the media calling for his demotion to the Minor Leagues. The critiques were strong and absolute, with the belief that Romero was causing more harm than good to not only the organization, but his career.

Both Romero and the Blue Jays brushed off that talk in between starts. With more than a month still remaining in the season, there was plenty of time to turn around what has been a disappointing campaign and finish on a positive note.

That work began in New York, and the Blue Jays left-hander felt the biggest difference was his ability to consistently pitch ahead in the count.

"Strike one, throwing strikes and getting deep into that game," Romero said of the positives he hopes to carry over into his next start. "I was able to do that really good. That's a tough Yankees lineup every time, they take their pitches, and they work the count as good as anybody in this league.

"I was in the zone and making them swing the bats. When you're able to do that against a team like this, and keep the ball down, they get themselves out."

Romero's only trouble on Tuesday night occurred in the third and fourth innings. The third-inning woes began with back-to-back singles by Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki. Two batters later, Nick Swisher followed with an RBI single, while in the fourth, Curtis Granderson recorded a sacrifice fly to score Steve Pearce, who reached base on a leadoff walk.

The 27-year-old Romero was relatively flawless from that point on. Despite the strong outing, he still hasn't won since June 22 in Miami, and owns a 7.16 ERA over that span. The 11-game losing streak is now a single-season franchise record and the longest in the American League this year.

Even so, the pros outweighed the cons on Tuesday night, and Blue Jays manager John Farrell was more than happy with what he saw on the mound.

"I think he felt good about himself physically, and as the rhythm of the game was established, you could see it continue for him," Farrell said. "Not just from a physical standpoint, but even talking with him after the sixth, he felt like he was still strong, and [we] sent him out against a couple of right-handed hitters in that inning."

The Blue Jays' lack of offense has been a growing trend of late, and has become an even bigger problem when Romero is on the mound. In Romero's past 10 starts, Toronto has managed to score a total of 17 runs -- including four consecutive shutouts from July 7-25.

Toronto's lone bright spot on offense occurred in the fifth, when Adeiny Hechavarria recorded the first home run of his big league career. Hechavarria sent a 1-2 fastball from right-hander Phil Hughes over the wall in right field to get the Blue Jays within one. Hughes departed after seven innings having surrendered just four hits while walking three and striking out five.

"He did a really nice job again," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Hughes. "He's pitched well for us this year, and it's a time where you need distance. He did a really good job. He mixed in all of his pitches tonight. The one homer, he got the ball up in the zone, but he was really good."

The Blue Jays have now scored three runs or less in six of their past 27 games. Over that span, the club has gone 6-21 and have now lost eight of their past nine games.

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