Just in case there was any lingering doubt about R.A. Dickey’s case to start for the National League in the upcoming All-Star Game, he pretty much clinched it last night.
After giving up five runs over six innings against the Yankees on Sunday, Dickey bounced right back by tossing eight shutout innings as part of a 9-0 rout over the fading Dodgers. With the victory, he became the first pitcher in the majors to reach 12 wins this season. As if you need wins to tell you that R.A. Dickey is awesome.
Dickey actually held the Dodgers to just one hit, a fly ball that center fielder Andres Torres really should have caught, over the first six innings. A.J. Ellis managed a single in the seventh and Tony Gwynn, Jr. doubled in the eighth, but that’s all the Dodgers could muster. Dickey walked one and struck out 10 in the victory.
Dickey’s June numbers were simply ridiculous: 0.93 ERA, 55/8 K/BB ratio over 48 1/3 innings, three complete games and two shutouts. The 37-year-old now has an incredible 2.15 ERA and 116/25 K/BB ratio over 113 innings this season. I hope Buster Posey and/or Yadier Molina are ready to catch some knuckleballs.
Your Friday box scores:
Astros 0, Cubs 4
White Sox 14, Yankees 7
Phillies 2, Marlins 6
Indians 8, Orioles 9
Nationals 5, Braves 4
Angels 5, Blue Jays 7
Diamondbacks 9, Brewers 3
Tigers 2, Rays 4
Padres 2, Rockies 10
Athletics 3, Rangers 4
Pirates 14, Cardinals 5
Royals 4, Twins 3
Red Sox 5, Mariners 0
Reds 5, Giants 1
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.