CHICAGO (AP) Early Sunday morning, Sergio Romo flew from the bottom of the NL East into a pennant race with the Minnesota Twins.
Romo joined the Twins in Chicago after he was acquired in a trade with Miami on Saturday night. The AL Central-leading Twins begin a three-game series against the Marlins on Tuesday night, but the veteran reliever had no interest in meeting his new team in Florida.
''There's no waiting,'' Romo said before the Twins' 11-1 victory over the White Sox. ''This is Major League Baseball and we're in the second half and we're really trying to make a playoff push, so I've got to be here. You know what I mean. They're trying to get me to come in and help out, so the sooner the better.''
Romo rested during the series finale in Chicago, where he enjoyed his view for the runaway win.
''He came in after the game and was like `Man, this is kind of fun,''' said Kyle Gibson, who pitched six effective innings. ''So if we keep scoring 11 runs every time he's here he can stay around, that's for sure.''
Minnesota is trying to hold off Cleveland and win the division for the first time since 2010. The Twins haven't won a playoff game since they were eliminated by the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series in 2004.
The addition of Romo gives Minnesota a playoff-tested performer for the back end of its bullpen. The 36-year-old right-hander helped San Francisco win three World Series and has a 3.09 ERA in 27 postseason appearances - all with the Giants.
''I think it's just a winning mindset more than anything else. I think he exudes that,'' Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. ''That's who he is through and through. I keep saying he's a competitor and I can't emphasize that enough. He loves being out on the mound. He loves being challenged. He wants the ball with the bases loaded with the best hitter at the plate, just so he can get him out and get through the inning to fire his team up and win the game.''
Minnesota got Romo, minor league pitcher Chris Vallimont and a player to be named from Miami for minor league first baseman Lewin Diaz. Right-handed reliever Carlos Torres was designated for assignment by the Twins to make room on the roster.
Romo is 2-0 with 17 saves and a 3.58 ERA in 38 games this season. He had a sparkling 0.61 ERA in his last 15 appearances for the Marlins.
''Leaving behind friends, guys I considered brothers at this point, having spent all that time with them, that's the hard part,'' Romo said, ''but then again, it's also fun going to a place thinking my relationships and my friendships, maybe I can keep adding to that, it's a blessing to be able to say that. It's a privilege to be in the big leagues especially for as long as I have and to call a lot of these guys my friends. There's some mixed feelings but at the same time I'm trying to win championships, so let's go.''