Making his Rangers debut, Ryan Dempster surrendered eight runs Thursday against the Angels, yet opposing starter C.J. Wilson was just as bad and Texas won a shootout 15-9.
Dempster gave up his eight runs in 4 2/3 innings, while Wilson, an ex-Ranger who left for Anaheim in free agency last winter,yielded eight runs in 5 1/3 innings, making it a battle of the bullpens. The Rangers held the big advantage there thanks to Roy Oswalt in his first appearance since being bumped from the rotation. Working in relief for the 14th time in his career, he pitched two scoreless innings and picked up his 163rd career victory.
Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz homered for the Rangers. They also had six doubles among their 18 hits, Josh Hamilton drove in four runs, and Geovany Soto went 2-for-5 with a two-run double in his first start behind the plate for Texas.
In his major league debut, Mike Olt went 1-for-3 with a run scored before being replaced by Mitch Moreland at first base.
The Angels got homers from Mark Trumbo, Kendrys Morales and Alberto Callaspo in the loss. They scored 40 runs in the four-game series in Texas, yet won only two out of four games. The Rangers ended up with 36 runs in the series.
Texas currently has a five-game lead over the Angels in the AL West.
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.