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Romano throws gas, then runs out in debut

Reds prospect goes three innings, allows three runs
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- For his Major League debut on Sunday vs. the Brewers, Reds rookie Sal Romano came out throwing some serious gas. Then he ran out of gas sooner than he wanted or the Reds expected in a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee.

Romano's first big league pitch to Nick Franklin was 97 mph. Four pitches in the at-bat were 98 mph and Franklin struck out when he foul tipped a 97-mph fastball into catcher Tucker Barnhart's glove. Romano was done after three innings and 82 pitches, with 39 strikes.

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CINCINNATI -- For his Major League debut on Sunday vs. the Brewers, Reds rookie Sal Romano came out throwing some serious gas. Then he ran out of gas sooner than he wanted or the Reds expected in a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee.

Romano's first big league pitch to Nick Franklin was 97 mph. Four pitches in the at-bat were 98 mph and Franklin struck out when he foul tipped a 97-mph fastball into catcher Tucker Barnhart's glove. Romano was done after three innings and 82 pitches, with 39 strikes.

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"Obviously being your Major League debut, you're pumped up," said Romano, who allowed three runs (two earned) and three hits with four walks and two strikeouts. "You want to get out there and show everybody what you've got. I think the next start, hopefully, I will just back off a little bit, let my ball sink and go from there."

According to Statcast™, Romano averaged 95 mph with his 60 fastballs. Thirty-two, or 53 percent, were strikes.

Romano's scoreless first inning required 35 pitches. Not helping was second baseman Arismendy Alcantara, who dropped a first-pitch foul ball in short right field for an error that would have been the second out. It took eight pitches before Ryan Braun walked.

"Errors are going to happen," Romano said. "It's my job as a pitcher to pick him up and get the next guy."

Hernan Perez worked an 11-pitch at-bat, with five two-strike foul balls before flying out to end the inning.

"Then it was just a real struggle," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's going to be much better than that. He's got good downward angle on his pitches, he pitches down in the zone early, he throws his breaking ball for strikes. He can throw that high fastball with two strikes. That certainly wasn't the best of Sal or he wouldn't have gotten here in the first place."

In the top of the third inning came back-to-back home runs as Braun hit a 95 mph, 1-0 pitch for a two-run shot the other way to right field. Travis Shaw followed by tattooing a 94-mph fastball in a 2-1 count for a booming homer well into the right-field seats.

Price went to Tim Adleman for the top of the fourth inning. It was the fourth time this week that Reds' rotation got four or less innings from a starting pitcher.

Nevertheless, Romano had deep appreciation for his debut. He entered the season as the organization's No. 9 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, despite being a 23rd-round pick in the 2011 Draft out of high school in Southington, Conn. The 23-year-old narrowly missed making the rotation following a strong Spring Training.

"There's no describing how I felt," Romano said. "Even just walking out there today at 10:30 a.m. looking around and taking it all in. ... I have to keep that pitch count down. I'm not known to walk people, so obviously that wasn't something that I liked today. I've just got to pound the zone more, get ahead early and trust my stuff."

Romano had a big cheering section, and he said he left tickets for 47 members of his family and friends, which matched his uniform number.

Video: MIL@CIN: Romano family on son's debut, special shirts

"I can't thank my family enough for being out there today supporting me," Romano said. "No matter what happened, I knew they would be proud of me. This was hopefully the first of many for me. I'll take what I've learned today and bring it into the rest of the year."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Cincinnati Reds, Sal Romano