ST. LOUIS (AP) — The way this major league thing is going for Fernando Romero, the Minnesota Twins rookie might just stick around for a while.
Romero (2-0) followed his impressive debut a week ago with another scoreless outing Monday night, throwing six sharp innings to lead Minnesota to a 6-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The 23-year-old right-hander permitted just three hits and struck out nine while throwing 97 pitches.
He extended his shutout streak to 11 2/3 innings to begin his career, building on a win over Toronto last week. The victory was a season-high fourth straight for the Twins, who have won 13 of their last 16 games against National League opponents dating to last year.
“I got all my guys behind me, so I’m not scared to throw the ball over the plate,” Romero said. “I’ve got nine guys playing with me, so they can get the ball whenever it comes.”
Romero had plenty of help in the field on Monday, most spectacularly in the form of Eddie Rosario’s home run-saving catch of Dexter Fowler’s drive in the first inning. The left fielder was playing shallow with Fowler batting left-handed, but that didn’t stop him from tracking the shot, crashing into the wall and reaching over it to take away what would have been a game-tying, two-run homer by Fowler.
“That was surprising,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “It was amazing (Rosario) was able to get back on that ball. … That certainly took a little of the wind out of us.”
St. Louis had its season-best five-game winning streak snapped, one night after finishing a weekend sweep of the rival Chicago Cubs at nearly 1 a.m. John Gant (1-1) gave up six hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings for the Cardinals, who managed only four hits.
Paul DeJong had three of those for St. Louis, which struck out 12 times. Seven came on called third strikes, including three for Marcell Ozuna.
Five of Romero’s nine strikeouts caught Cardinals batters looking, thanks in large part to his upper-90s (mph) velocity and fine command.
Romero was signed by the Twins out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 and entered this season as one of their top prospects. After four appearances at Triple-A Rochester to start the season, he was called up last week — and has put together two spotless performances since then.
“You don’t want to judge it too much on two starts,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “We like a lot of things he can offer in terms of how he has presence on the mound. … You’ve got to be pleased to come in here and play as clean a game as we did, and starting pitching is where it starts.”
Robbie Grossman went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, and Bobby Wilson knocked in two runs for Minnesota.
Twins: Molitor said Gold Glove CF Byron Buxton went through running drills in the outfield and plans to run the bases Tuesday. Buxton has been out since April 12 with a hairline fracture in his left big toe, but Molitor said the 24-year-old is expected to travel with the team to California this week and could return then.
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright made a rehab start at Double-A Springfield, allowing two hits in five scoreless innings. The right-hander is returning from elbow inflammation, and manager Mike Matheny said Wainwright will likely return to the Cardinals’ rotation for his next start. … CF Tommy Pham was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game with a lingering hip injury. Pham pinch-hit in Sunday night’s 14-inning win over the Cubs. Matheny said the 30-year-old was “lobbying pretty hard” to start Monday and could return to the lineup on Tuesday.
Twins: After striking out a season-high eight in his last outing, Jake Odorizzi takes the mound as Minnesota closes out its two-game interleague series in St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.10 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings this season.
Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (3-1) has allowed one run or less in six straight starts and is second in the National League with a 1.40 ERA.