NEW YORK (AP) — About 200 of Sal Romano’s friends and family members drove two-plus hours to see him Tuesday night. A 1-hour, 40-minute rain delay wasn’t going to deter that group from enjoying the right-hander’s homecoming start.
Romano won in New York for the first time as a big leaguer Tuesday night, pitching into the seventh inning to lift the Cincinnati Reds over the Mets 6-1 in a game delayed by a thunderstorm in the first inning.
Romano (7-9) was born in Syosset on nearby Long Island and grew up in Southington, Connecticut. He allowed a run, two hits and three walks while striking out five over six-plus innings to help the Reds snap a three-game skid.
“I was glad I was able to get a win for them,” Romano said of his fan section.
The 24-year-old right-hander took the mound two hours later than anticipated but with a 3-0 lead thanks to a Reds rally that bookended the delay. Mets starter Jason Vargas allowed hits to three of the four batters he faced, including Scooter Gennett, who laced an RBI single to give Cincinnati the lead shortly before players were waved off the field at 7:20 PM — just nine minutes after first pitch.
Crew chief Kerwin Danley said the storm arrived much faster than predicted and the umpires were aggressive in starting the game because it was the last series of the season between the Mets and Reds.
“When you get a forecast like that, where it looked like it could have missed us, you don’t want to delay the start of a game when it’s not raining,” Danley told a pool reporter.
Once play resumed, Phillip Ervin lofted a sacrifice fly off Paul Sewald, and Tucker Barnhart delivered a run-scoring single.
That was more than enough for Romano, who conducted a second, shorter warm-up prior to the resumption. He gave up both hits in the second, when Brandon Nimmo doubled with two outs and scored on Jose Bautista’s single.
Romano didn’t factor into the decision in his first start in New York against the Mets last season. He left after walking the first two batters of the seventh Tuesday and received a warm ovation from his traveling crew wearing Reds gear behind the visiting dugout. He said he had a couple hundred supporters in the stands, and he greeted about 60 friends and family members in the tunnel outside Cincinnati clubhouse after the game.
“It’s always nice to look up and you see all that red there, knowing they’re all here for me,” Romano said. “It’s really, really nice to have the support that I do back home. For all them to come down and travel like that and pitch a good ballgame for them, get a win, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Ervin hit a two-run homer in the third, and former Mets prospect Dilson Herrera led off the ninth with a pinch-hit homer as the Reds scored more than four runs for just the second time in the last nine games.
“We’ve struggled a little with the bat lately, we’re due to come out of it,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.
Vargas (2-8) took the loss after allowing three runs and three hits while recording one out. The left-hander, who has spent time on the disabled list this season due to hand and calf injuries, has lasted five innings or fewer in all 12 of his starts.
“It’s tough for him right now,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “He just can’t get in a routine. We haven’t been able to get him out there every five days. Think we’re about to and then this happens.”
Nimmo had two hits for the Mets, who have lost eight of 11.
A SCARE, AND A NOT-SO-SWEET SHORT START
Shortly before the game was delayed, one rumble of thunder was so loud that Mets shortstop Amed Rosario ducked before darting toward the third base line.
The rain made Vargas’ 240th big league start his shortest. Prior to Tuesday, Vargas’ briefest start was a one-inning outing for the Marlins on Oct. 1, 2005. He is the first Mets starter to record one out or fewer since Jonathon Niese got one out against the Cardinals before exiting due to a knee injury on Aug. 23, 2016.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto (right knee) and OF Preston Tucker (toe) did not play. Votto, who was hit by a pitch by the Nationals’ Ryan Madson, sat for the second time in three games and just the ninth time since the start of the 2015 season. Riggleman said a disabled list stint is a possibility for Tucker, who was hit by Noah Syndergaard on Monday.
Mets: OF Jay Bruce (right hip), who has been on the disabled list since June 19, is participating in baseball activities and getting closer to a rehab assignment. ... LHP Steven Matz (flexor pronator strain) threw 15 pitches Monday but will miss at least one more start.
Reds: RHP Robert Stephenson (season debut) earned a promotion by going 11-6 with a 2.87 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 113 innings at Triple-A Louisville.
Mets: Hard-luck major league ERA leader RHP Jacob deGrom (5-7, 1.85 ERA) will look to win for the first time since June 18. DeGrom is 0-5 in his last seven starts despite a 2.47 ERA.