MIAMI - Sergio Romo didn’t want to consider the possibility of having to face the Marlins, his team as recently as Friday. He established relationships, did what he could to mentor the younger players and enjoyed his nearly four months with them.
“I’d rather not think about it,” he said before Tuesday’s game. “I’m almost hoping they don’t call my name, but I’m pretty sure the way baseball works, I’m going to get called in and called often. Go figure.”
Yes, figure. The Twins needed Romo on Tuesday to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning. To Romo, the opponents on Tuesday were his brothers.
And 20 pitches later — yes, that’s on the high side — Romo was pounding his chest as he walked off the field after stranding a runner on second. His Twins debut was a success. Moreover, his Twins debut was vital in their 2-1 victory over the Marlins in the first of a three-game series at Marlins Park.
After he got the Twins through the eighth, Taylor Rogers pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 16th save.
Coupled with the Indians’ 2-0 loss to Houston, the Twins moved to three games ahead of Cleveland in the American League Central.
Following the game, Romo told FSN’s Marney Gellner that he nearly smiled at his former team while pitching to them. But he did what he was brought in to do, put up zeroes. He got two outs before hitting Brian Anderson with a pitch. He bounced back to strike out Martin Prado to end the eighth.
“I’m here to help the Minnesota Twins win,” said Romo, who left the clubhouse before other reporters could talk to him after the game. “The amount of energy I had inside was kind of overflowing and it was going a little fast but I was able to get it done and it was really, really cool.”
Romo was traded to the Twins on Saturday, flew from Miami to Chicago on Sunday to watch the Twins beat the White Sox, flew back to Miami with the team after the game and spent Monday packing things he’ll need in the Twin Cities.
“I’m going to Twin it up every day,” he said before the first pitch.
Twins righthander Jake Odorizzi (12-5) needed 103 pitches over 5⅔ innings — largely because his command wasn’t perfect, demonstrated by the Marlins’ 25 foul balls. But he held Miami to one run on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
The Twins had their hands full with Marlins righthander Zac Gallen, who adeptly changed speeds and held the Twins to four hits over seven innings. Lefthanded hitters were 2-for-15 against him with five strikeouts, and the hits were an infield hit by Max Kepler in the sixth and a bloop single by Eddie Rosario in the seventh. Luis Arraez struck out twice, only the second time he’s done so.
The righties bailed the Twins out. Byron Buxton blasted a home run to left in the third inning for the first run of the game. It was his 10th homer of the season, giving the Twins 11 players with double-digit home runs.
Then Miguel Sano hit a 112.6-miles-per-hour missile to left-center for an RBI double in the fourth.
Odorizzi got the first two outs of the fourth and got two strikes on Starlin Castro before giving up a single. Odorizzi, on a 2-2 pitch to Curtis Granderson, gave up an RBI double as Miami pulled within 2-1.
Odorizzi lasted through two outs in the sixth. Tyler Duffey retired the next four batters, then Romo, with his high socks and filthy slider, entered the game.
“I’ve seen him plenty,” Odorizzi said of Romo, his teammate with the Rays in 2017. “This isn’t the first time I’ve seen sliders that go batter’s box to batter’s box. Came in and did a great job. It’s always tough facing your old team if you’re here half of the year, a full year, whatever it may be and it’s separated by a day.”