Oakland’s Brandon Moss set to do something pretty unusual

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After a terrific start for the A’s in June, Brandon Moss has been a part-time player these last couple of months. However, he’s still hitting for power, having delivered his 18th homer of the season Tuesday against the Angels. It came in just his 201st at-bat.

With the A’s having 21 games left after tonight, it seems likely that Moss will end up right around 250 at-bats for the season. He has a chance to become just the seventh player ever to hit 20 homers in a season of 250 or fewer at-bats.

Johnny Blanchard (1961 Yankees): 21 HR, 243 AB
Willie McCovey (1962 Giants): 20 HR, 229 AB
Art Shamsky (1966 Reds): 21 HR, 234 AB
Mark McGwire (2000 Cardinals): 32 HR, 236 AB
David Ross (2006 Reds): 21 HR, 247 AB
Mike Napoli (2008 Angels): 20 HR in 227 AB

If Moss ends up over 250 at-bats, he could still find himself in a pretty exclusive list of players with at least 20 homers in seasons of 300 or fewer at-bats. 29 players have done that, including Glenallen Hill and McGwire twice each. Jim Thome was the last, finishing with 25 homers in 276 at-bats for the 2010 Twins.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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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.