Former Tigers pitcher Les Mueller dies at 93

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Les Meuller spent parts of just two seasons in the majors, but among his 30 appearances with the Tigers was one very notable feat. On July 21, 1945, he pitched 19 2/3 innings, allowing just one unearned run, in what ended up being a 24-inning tie against the A’s in Philadelphia.

Meuller’s outing that day is the longest in the majors since 1930. The longest since was a Vern Law 18-inning start for the Pirates on July 19, 1955.

Meuller allowed 13 hits, walked five and struck out six in the game. He was finally relieved by Dizzy Trout in the 20th inning, and Trout finished it out before the game was called. It actually could have kept going; Shibe Park had lights at the time. However, there was a league rule against turning on the lights during day games.

Perhaps one reason the game lasted as long as it did was because the Tigers had their best hitter, Hank Greenberg, on the bench. Greenberg appeared as a pinch-hitter and walked.

Connie Mack’s A’s got five hits from Bobby Estalella, grandfather of the future major league catcher. Future Hall of Famer George Kell, still a youngster at age 22, went 0-for-10 from the seventh spot in the order.

After that game, Mueller didn’t pitch again for two weeks. He allowed three runs — two earned — in 8 2/3 innings in a loss to the White Sox on Aug. 5. He was primarily a starter the rest of the way, and he beat the Athletics for his final big-league victory on Sept. 14.

After the 1945 season, Mueller spent a few years toiling in the minors and then gave up on baseball. The AP reports that he operated a furniture store in Belleville, Illinois until retiring. He’s survived by his wife and three sons.

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.