NEW YORK – Ricky Romero had to slow himself down.
Scoreless streak or not, he was pitching in new Yankee Stadium for the first time, and his first inning included a leadoff walk, a balk, a wild pitch and a hit batter.
“I was really, really exited,” he said. “You know, it’s a packed house. It’s the Yankees, and you want to do good.”
Romero calmed himself and extended his scoreless streak to 24 innings before Eric Hinske homered in his Yankees debut, and the Toronto Blue Jays held on to beat New York 7-6 Monday and avoid getting swept in a four-game series.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected by umpire Marty Foster in the first inning after Derek Jeter was caught stealing third and argued. Replays showed Jeter reached around Scott Rolen’s tag attempt and touch the base.
“I was told by the umpire that I didn’t have to be tagged to be out,” Jeter said.
Crew chief John Hirschbeck did not make Foster available to reporters.
“It would make his actions seem appropriate if that’s what he was told,” Hirschbeck said of Jeter. “It used to be if the ball beat you, you were out, but it isn’t that way anymore. It’s not a reason to call someone out. You have to make a good tag.”
Toronto built a 7-1 lead as Alex Rios hit a three-run homer in the third inning off Andy Pettitte (8-4), John McDonald hit his first home run in nearly a year leading off the seventh and Scott Rolen extended his career-best hitting streak to 23 games with a two-run double in the seventh against an ineffective Brian Bruney.
Romero (7-3) won his fourth straight start, allowing three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. The 24-year-old rookie left-hander tied the franchise rookie record for consecutive shutout innings set by Mark Eichhorn in 1986 before Hinske connected in the fifth.
“It was 6 1-3 innings, but it was 6 1-3 innings where they had me battling every inning,” said Romero, who retired the side in order just twice.
Romero has six wins following Toronto losses.
“He just keeps getting better all the time,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “He’s growing up out there every time he goes out there.”
Brandon League allowed Nick Swisher’s two-run single in the seventh before striking out Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Jason Frasor relieved with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, walked Jeter and on the next pitch retired Swisher on a flyout.
Frasor finished for his third save in five chances, giving up a two-out, two-run single to pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui in the ninth before striking out Hinske on 3-2 pitch. Toronto (43-41) won for just the second time in nine games and avoided dropping to .500 for the first time since the Blue Jays were 59-59 before play on Aug. 12 last year.
New York lost for just the second time in 12 games. Pettitte gave up six runs, five hits and five walks in six-plus innings – 12 of the 14 homers he has allowed this year have been at home.
“We had some things go against us,” Girardi said. “We just came up short.”
The ejection was the 10th of Girardi’s career, his seventh as a manager and fifth as Yankees manager. He also was tossed May 4 against Boston and June 24 at Atlanta.
“I don’t believe if the ball beats you, you’re automatically out,” Girardi said.
New York also thought second base ump Wally Bell blew at least two calls. Bell ruled Aaron Hill safe when New York thought Jeter’s throw beat him to second on Wells’ grounder ahead of Rios’ homer. Then New York was convinced shortstop Marco Scutaro was off second when Hinske was called out on Brett Gardner’s seventh-inning grounder.
“Sometimes, you just miss a play,” Hirschbeck said.
Hinske, who won the AL Rookie of the Year with Toronto in 2002, started in right-field and caught Scutaro’s fly on the first pitch of the game. Hinske, acquired six days earlier from Pittsburgh, turned around and flexed his biceps when the Bleacher Creatures shouted his name during roll call. He made a diving backhand catch on Wells’ sinking liner to end the first, and homered off the right-field foul poll in the fifth.
Hinske said he was spurred on by Gardner and Joba Chamberlain.
“They told me I had to do something. I just couldn’t point at them,” he said. “The only thing I could think of was a flex, so I pulled up my shirt and flexed a little. I think they liked it. It’s great to have those people cheering for you. I’ve been on the other side of that for seven years.”
NOTES: The Yankees ran out of US$5 senior citizen tickets and let about 170 seniors sit in $375 seats on the field level for the $5 price, spokesman Jason Zillo said.