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Twins' Romero stymies Jays to win MLB debut

Special to MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Fernando Romero arrived at the Twins' clubhouse and spoke to reporters for the first time on Tuesday, the 23-year-old spoke confidently, but with a sense of urgency.

"I ain't got no time to waste," Romero said when asked if he thought he was ready to be a full-time Major Leaguer.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- When Fernando Romero arrived at the Twins' clubhouse and spoke to reporters for the first time on Tuesday, the 23-year-old spoke confidently, but with a sense of urgency.

"I ain't got no time to waste," Romero said when asked if he thought he was ready to be a full-time Major Leaguer.

View Full Game Coverage

Minnesota's top pitching prospect was true to his word on Wednesday, when he threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out five, leading the Twins to a 4-0 win over the Blue Jays at Target Field in his Major League debut.

Listed by MLB Pipeline as the Twins' No. 2 prospect and the 66th-best prospect in baseball, Romero threw 97 pitches (59 strikes) and generated 12 swinging strikes.

Video: TOR@MIN: Romero on scoreless outing in MLB debut

"I feel comfortable. I can be here," Romero said. "I feel comfortable, I've got no excuses. I'm ready to work. I'm ready to compete."

Romero went to work right away and struck out Curtis Granderson swinging with a slider to begin the game. By the end of the first inning, his fastball had already registered at 98.6 mph -- tied for the fastest pitch thrown by a Twins starter since pitch tracking began in 2008.

As the game went on, Twins catcher Jason Castro called more sliders and the duo used the pitch to put hitters away whenever Romero found himself in a jam.

"When the opposing team is making comments mid-at-bat about the stuff, that's a pretty good indicator that you've got pretty good stuff," Castro said.

Video: TOR@MIN: Romero collects his first career strikeout

Romero encountered trouble in the second inning when he gave up a single to Kevin Pillar and then walked Russell Martin. But he responded by striking out Kendrys Morales -- who went 3-for-3 with a pair of homers against the Twins a day earlier -- with another slider. He then got Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to ground out to short and end the inning.

"I said before the game I wanted to see how he'd handle himself in the first inning and those kinds of things," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "But it was good. I think it helped him he didn't put us in a hole early. We got a couple runs. He had a couple baserunners. It wasn't a perfect day for him. We know his command can be a little bit iffy. But as you can see, his stuff is alive and he made a lot of hitters uncomfortable in the batter's box."

The Twins gave Romero some offensive backing early on when Eddie Rosario homered for the second straight game with a solo shot to left in the second. Then, in the third, The Twins loaded the bases and Gregorio Petit scored on Max Kepler's groundout to first to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.

Video: TOR@MIN: Rosario crushes opposite-field solo homer

Romero retired Toronto's 3 and 4 hitters to start the sixth before walking Pillar. With the rookie's pitch count at 97, Molitor elected to turn to his bullpen. Target Field gave Romero a standing ovation as he exited the game, and he pointed at the sky when he crossed the first-base line on his walk back to the dugout.

Trevor Hildenberger came on to replace Romero, and ended the inning when Martin crushed a ball 108.8 mph off the bat -- directly at Eduardo Escobar at third. Zach Duke and Addison Reed kept the Blue Jays off the board in the seventh and eighth innings, and Fernando Rodney sealed the win with a scoreless ninth.

Video: TOR@MIN: Rodney cleanly fields comebacker for 2nd out

On Tuesday, Romero had talked about how Rodney became a mentor of sorts for him during Spring Training and helped him work on his changeup grip. Romero said that Rodney's message to him before Wednesday's start was simple: Attack the zone early so you can be successful.

"He's very special," Rodney said. "Today is great for him and his family and the organization."

SOUND SMART
Romero became the fourth Twins starter to not allow a run in a Major League debut, joining Eric Milton, Anthony Swarzak and Andrew Albers.

UP NEXT
The Twins will hit the road and head to Chicago for a four-game series with the White Sox that begins on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 3.94 ERA) will get the start for the Twins and square off with Chicago's Reynaldo Lopez (0-2, 1.78 ERA).

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minnesota.

Minnesota Twins, Fernando Romero