A day after Tigers embarrass Phillies, Phillies embarrass themselves

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Last night, the Tigers outclassed the Phillies en route to an easy 10-0 win. Max Scherzer was on point as he improved to 15-1, and Miguel Cabrera was productive as usual. A typical game for the defending American League champions.

This afternoon was an entirely different story, as the Phillies were their own worst enemy. It started off like a normal game. With the Phillies leading 1-0 in the bottom of the third, the Tigers were threatening, loading the bases with one out for Miguel Cabrera. He fell behind 0-2 on some questionable calls, then was, all of a sudden, ejected from the game. Ostensibly, Cabrera had muttered a few words within earshot of home plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Manager Jim Leyland came out to defend his slugger and was promptly tossed as well, an inauspicious start for the Tigers. Matt Tuiasosopo replaced Cabrera, eventually striking out. Prince Fielder fouled out to end the threat.

The Phillies would tack on a couple more runs to go up 3-0. Though Pettibone had pitched well through five innings, he labored all afternoon, having thrown 78 pitches. Manager Charlie Manuel opted to go to his much-maligned bullpen for the final four frames, and that is where it all fell apart. Without having to take you through the painful details, this is what the sixth-inning summary looked like (emphasis mine):

Bottom 6th: Detroit

– J. Diekman relieved J. Pettibone

– A. Dirks walked

– A. Avila safe at first on pitcher J. Diekman’s throwing error, A. Dirks to second

– R. Santiago reached on bunt single, A. Dirks to third, A. Avila to second

– A. Jackson flied out to shallow right

– D. Kelly safe at first on left fielder S. Susdorf’s fielding error, A. Dirks scored, A. Avila to third, R. Santiago to second

– L. Garcia relieved J. Diekman

– M. Tuiasosopo walked, A. Avila scored, R. Santiago to third, D. Kelly to second

– H. Perez ran for M. Tuiasosopo

– P. Fielder safe at first on first baseman D. Ruf’s throwing error, R. Santiago scored, D. Kelly to third, H. Perez to second

– V. Martinez walked, D. Kelly scored, H. Perez to third, P. Fielder to second

– J. Peralta homered to deep left, H. Perez, P. Fielder and V. Martinez scored

– A. Bastardo relieved L. Garcia

– A. Dirks struck out swinging

– A. Avila struck out looking

8 runs, 2 hits, 3 errors

Philadelphia 3, Detroit 11

The inning was actually uglier than the summary suggests, as it lasted over a half hour and featured this gem:

The Tigers went on to win 12-4, completing the series sweep in Detroit. The win is the Tigers’ seventh in their last eight games, while the Phillies extended their losing streak to eight games.

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.