By HAL McCOY
It is obvious that Salvatore Romano, known around camp as ‘Big Sally,’ sniffs a spot in the Cincinnati Reds rotation like a steaming pizza fresh out of the oven.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound righthander, mowed his way through the Seattle Mariners lineup Saturday night in Goodyear, Ariz. like a John Deere tractor — and Romano is as big as a tractor.
Romano pitched four innings and gave up no runs, one hit, walked one and struck out six. It was a bounceback effort after he gave up five runs in 3 1/3 innings in his previous start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Romano, a 23rd-round draft pick in 2011, had an eye-opening September with the Reds last season and he went to spring training camp this spring with manager Bryan Price’s stamp of approval. The job is his to lose and he did nothing Saturday night to put ‘lose’ in his vocabulary.
After a 1-2-3 first inning, he pitched out of trouble in the second. Mike Ford opened the inning with an opposite-field double over third base against an overshift.
Romano issued his only walk on a full count to Guillermo Heredia. He threw a wild pitch during Heredia’s at bat, so the walk put runners on first and third with no outs.
Romano struck out Mike Marjama and catcher Devin Mesoraco threw out Heredia trying to steal second on the strikeout. And Romano finished the inning by striking out Gordon Beckham.
Big Sally then pitched a 1-2-3 third with two strikeouts and a 1-2-3 fourth with a strikeout, ending his 57-pitch night.
When Romano left, the Reds led, 2-0, after Devin Mesoraco’s two-out home run in the first inning behind a walk to Joey Votto as Mesoraco continues a hot spring, even knowing he is destined to be catcher Tucker Barnhart’s back-up.
The score stayed 2-0 until the Mariners scored five runs in the sixth inning that featured a three-run inside-the-park home run by catcher Mike Marjoma that provided the Mariners with a 5-2 victory.
David Hernandez began the sixth inning on the mound and had two outs and one runner on first, a single by Beckham.
But Hernandez walked Kyle Seager on a full count and Mike Ford doubled to the right field corner for two runs to tie it, 2-2.
Struggling lefthander Wandy Peraltz replaced Hernandez and he walked Andrew Aplin. Marjoma lined one over right fielder Phillip Ervin’s head. The ball slammed the wall and kicked directly left past center fielder Mason Williams.
By the time the ball was chased down, Marjoma was rounding third and headed home for a three-run inside-the-park home run.
After Mesoraco’s home run, the Reds collected only five other hits that included doubles by Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel. Senzel played shortstop and made a spectacular play in the third inning, robbing Taylor Motter of a base hit on a bouncer up the middle.