J.P. Arencibia not only made his good buddy Ricky Romero a winner on Thursday night, he got us all to remember winning on the diamond isn’t everything. Arencibia and Romero dedicated the Jays’ 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay to Ryley James Martin, a 2½-year-old Oshawa boy who passed away on Wednesday after battling leukemia.
Arencibia and Romero had met Ryley on April 2 for 15 minutes when he had the chance to visit the team in the dugout at the ’Dome. After hitting a two-run, seventh-inning home run off of Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis, Arencibia cried.
“I shed a few tears after that home run because it was for him,” Arencibia told reporters after the game while holding a photo of him and Ryley together. “It’s killing me. I have nieces and nephews, and anytime something like that happens, it’s tough.”
Later, on his Twitter feed, Arencibia kindly and thoughtfully wrote: “Great win but its a game … We played this game for one person tonight RJM! RIP little buddy! Will never forget that smile!”
Romero (4-4, 3.10 ERA) was likewise emotional. He marked Ryley’s initials on the mound and referred to them often during a sterling performance that moved the Jays to within 2.5 games of AL East-leading Tampa Bay.
“Every time I looked at the back of the mound I kept on looking at his initials, just remembering the time we were playing in front of that dugout, the smile he had. It’s definitely something you carry with you forever,” he said.
Romero, who fanned six, went seven innings, allowing three hits, one earned run and two walks. He left with the game tied at 1 and Arencibia’s shot with Juan Rivera on base put the Jays up 3-1. Arencibia, who finished 2-for-4, said he got his teammates to a sign a ball from the game for the Martin family.
The usually reliable Marc Rzepczynski surrendered a homer to Kelly Shoppach in the eighth before Frank Francisco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.
The Blue Jays (22-21) have won seven of eight and will host Houston (15-29) in an interleague series this weekend.
FRIDAY: Astros (Aneury Rodriguez, 0-2, 6.26 ERA) at Jays (Jo-Jo Reyes, 0-3, 4.75 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet
2011 J.P. Arencibia Statistics
[If you've been wondering where the DJPATCW has been, we've been in Paris and Vienna and catching up on life since returning home. More on the Jays in coming days.]
FYI: Pics are by AB and they’re copyrighted.