MIAMI -- Somehow, someway, Sergio Romo continues to find a way. The 36-year-old did it again on Wednesday night, walking a tight wire in a stressful ninth inning, before fluttering a 75.7-mph slider past Steven Duggar with two on in the ninth inning.
Once again, Romo was able to “trick ‘em,” and lock down a 4-2 Marlins victory over the Giants at Marlins Park.
Career save No. 120 for Romo came against the club that he broke in with, and against the manager that the right-hander feels he owes so much to.
Legendary Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, who is retiring after the season, has long been a big believer in Romo. It started in 2008, when Bochy backed a decision to carry Romo on the squad, and mainly allow the slider-slinging reliever to be himself.
On Tuesday, Romo met the Giants’ team bus, and spent close to an hour in the clubhouse, enjoying about 10 minutes of quality time with Bochy
“I went over there before the game,” Romo said. “I went over there and said, 'What's up?' I had a gift for him. I gave him a token of appreciation for the faith and trust that he had in me for all those years. I feel I can count the amount of people that have taken a chance on me in my life on two hands, and he's on that. He's one of those fingers."
The gift was a bottle of 1942 Tequila.
“It's pretty cool,” Romo said. “I was able to talk to him. He told me some cool things. He said he was proud of me. 'I'm still tricking 'em.' That's what he said, 'Still tricking 'em.'"
Romo’s reply: “Yeah, I guess so."
“I had a nice talk with him,” Bochy said. “It was great to see him. I’m happy he's still doing well. I’ll never forget what he did for us in the bullpen and the good times we've had. He came by and we talked a little bit. It was good to see him."
“The best part of the conversation, I feel, was him hugging me,” Romo said. “I thanked him for letting me be part of his legacy. Just to be part of his story.”
The Marlins claimed a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning on Neil Walker’s pinch-hit, RBI double off Mark Melancon, and Garrett Cooper’s sacrifice fly. And in the eighth inning, Miami added an important insurance run, which was set up by the club’s first triple of the season.
In Miami’s 53rd game, Starlin Castro recorded the first triple of 2019 for the Marlins, and he scored on Harold Ramirez’s RBI single, giving Romo a three-run lead and the opportunity to reach his own save milestone of 120 against his former club.
Romo needed to exhaust his bag of tricks to log his 11th save in 12 chances. He needed 25 pitches to get three outs, including 15 sliders, his best pitch.
Protecting a 4-1 lead entering the ninth, Romo got in immediate trouble when Buster Posey doubled and Pablo Sandoval tapped an infield single. Brandon Belt’s fielder’s choice grounder made it 4-2, then Romo struck out Kevin Pillar.
“Buster has probably caught thousands of his sequences, and knows what he tries to do with the breaking ball,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He just kind of hung in there, and hit that breaking ball. [Sandoval] gets the lucky one, I thought, on the changeup."
Brandon Crawford, another former teammate, presented a dangerous threat with a runner on third, and Romo took no chances. Crawford walked, putting the tying run on first. But with the count full, Romo struck out Duggar.
With a 76.8-mph slider, Romo was able to seal the Marlins' third straight win, and ninth in 12 games.
“I was looking forward to them coming into town,” Romo said. “It does bring back memories. Good memories. Blessings that I call my experiences. Those guys played a huge part of it.”