The Red Sox got swept by the Nats over the weekend, which likely put Bobby Valentine in a bad mood. Making it worse: the umpiring. And Valentine used yesterday’s postgame presser to rip the men in blue.
He was particularly mad at what he — and everyone who watched it, PitchFx included — thought should have been strike three to Roger Bernadina, just prior to his hitting the game-winning double that scored Bryce Harper in the ninth. Here’s Valentine after the game:
“Alfredo struck the guy out on a pitch that the whole ball is on the plate, and [Umpire Al Porter] calls it a ball.”
Valentine got more angry in the bottom of the ninth when the 1-1 pitch to Dustin Pedroia was called a strike when it was clearly outside. That got Valentine out of the dugout and a one-way ticket to ejectionville. But it wasn’t just those two pitches that had him fuming:
“Good umpires had a real bad series . . . a real bad series,” said a grim, tight-lipped Valentine — attempting unsuccessfully to hide his anger — in his postgame press conference. “It went one way (for the Nationals and against the Red Sox). There should be a review … The game is simple: Throw it over the plate, call it a strike. Don’t throw it over the plate, call it a ball.” said Valentine. “It’s simple. That’s all. That’s all anybody asks. I know it’s been going on for 100 years. I’m not the first one to say it. But this was a pretty lousy series … You’ve got guys busting their butts, battling their butts off, and it’s not right.”
Now, if I had to guess, Valentine will get a one-way ticket to fineville. Or perhaps it’s a roundtrip ticket. And it’s possible he could use Rewards points to purchase it. It’s all so complicated these days.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.