The A’s had a nice little thing going over the weekend in sweeping a four-game series against the Yankees. In all, they entered their series against Toronto having won five straight games by exactly one run.
Needless to say, they weren’t content with such efforts against the Blue Jays.
After beating Toronto 7-2 on Tuesday, the A’s handed the franchise its biggest shutout loss in team history Wednesday, winning 16-0.
The A’s busted out for eight runs in the second inning to knock Ricky Romero from the game. They ended up scoring in every inning except the fourth and seventh.
Included in the outburst was Coco Crisp’s third career multi-homer game. Every starter scored at least one run, and everyone except Jemile Weeks drove in a run.
The Jays were forced to turn to catcher Jeff Mathis to pitch the ninth. He gave up two runs and three hits, including Derek Norris’ first career double in his 69th at-bat.
The Jays’ loss eclipsed a 15-0 defeat at the hands of Balitmore in 2006 as the biggest shutout loss in franchise history. Romero gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings, the shortest outing of his career. Of the five career outings in which he’s allowed eight or more runs, three have come in the last month.
The A’s scored 16 runs for the first time since beating the Twins 16-1 on July 22, 2009. It was their first shutout win with as many as 16 runs scored since June 26, 2005 against the Giants.
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.