TORONTO -- The final score on Friday night wasn't a fair indicator, but Ricky Romero could finally be turning the corner on what has been a disappointing 2012 campaign.
Toronto's left-hander has suffered through many personal lows this year, but he has now thrown three consecutive quality starts despite not having a win to show for his efforts.
Romero pitched seven strong innings but didn't receive much run support, and Toronto got even less help from the bullpen in a 10-4 loss to the Yankees in front of 41,610 fans at Rogers Centre.
"We have, and in large part with the conviction to his fastball," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said when asked if has noticed a difference in Romero. "Even in the early innings tonight where he [missed location on] some pitches, I thought he found a much better rhythm.
"But when you look at the last three starts, it has predominantly been because of the trust in his fastball and working ahead in the count. ... Still, as we've talked about before, runs are at a premium. But he went out and pitched a solid game for us."
The lack of offense helped contribute to extending Romero's personal winless streak to nine games, and he's 0-8 with a 7.26 ERA while walking 31 and striking out 30 over that span. Those are ugly numbers, but Romero can take some consolation in the fact that his performance has been much better of late.
Romero surrendered just three runs -- two earned -- on four hits while striking out two against the Yankees. Despite the loss, he has now thrown three consecutive quality starts for the first time since April and appears a lot more confident on the mound.
The final pitching line is something the Blue Jays can definitely live with, but the start of Romero's outing wasn't quite as impressive. Romero got through the first unscathed but then experienced a lot of difficulty in the second.
Romero allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base, and then saw the inning unravel in part because of an error by catcher Jeff Mathis. With runners on first and second, Yankees third baseman Jayson Nix laid a bunt down the third-base line. Mathis came out to field the ball, but his throw to third sailed into left field and allowed one run to score.
New York's Ichiro Suzuki then followed with an RBI groundout, while in the third the Yankees increased their lead on an RBI single by Robinson Cano. Just when it appeared as though the game could get away from Romero, he settled down and cruised through the rest of his outing.
"I felt great, I felt like I finished strong," said Romero, who retired the final 10 batters he faced. "I got back to that delivery I've kind of been looking for, and felt like I found it towards the end, and can't say enough about [pitching coach] Bruce Walton. He's helped me a lot and he has been one of the guys that has stuck with me throughout all of this.
"I've gone back to the basics my past three starts, which is using my heater and working off of that. I've been successful with it."
The Blue Jays' bullpen entered play on Friday night a 1.33 ERA over its past 47 1/3 innings, but things weren't nearly as efficient against New York. Right-hander Steve Delabar surrendered three runs in the eighth thanks in part to a popup that Kelly Johnson lost in the lights.
David Carpenter then followed in the ninth by allowing four more runs as Rajai Davis had an easy inning-ending liner sail over his glove for a two-run double for Ichiro, giving him five RBIs on the night.
Romero likely deserved a better fate but, with the exception of Johnson, the club's offense offered little in the way of support. Johnson put the Blue Jays on the board with a solo shot in the second, and added an RBI double in the fourth, but that was it for the offense against right-hander Freddy Garcia.
Garcia allowed just the two runs on five hits while striking out four over six innings of work. Garcia has now allowed three runs or less in seven of his past eight starts despite having a 4.85 ERA on the season.
"His velocity is up, and when his velocity is up, most of his other pitches are crisper, and that's really the big difference," Yankees catcher Russell Martin said. "His velocity was down when he was getting banged around a little bit, and now that he has gotten velocity back, he is much better."
On July 28, the Blue Jays had scored more runs than any other team in the Major Leagues. Since then, though, Toronto has averaged just 2.4 runs per game and has scored more than three just three times en route to a 2-10 skid.
A major component of that has been because of the club's well-documented injury woes. Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia are all currently on the disabled list, while Colby Rasmus exited Friday night's game in the eighth inning after re-aggravating his right groin.
"It's weird, I've never seen anything like it," said Romero, whose record dropped below .500 for the first time this season. "I've never seen so many players going in and out of this clubhouse in a year, and the year isn't even over yet. God forbid, nobody else gets hurt. But we've battled with what we've had, and we're not going to give up."