Brandon Morrow walks eight, gets pulled with no-hitter intact

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It was obvious from the start that the potential was there for a long day. Check out the location of the three pitches that led to a 3-0 count on Dustin Pedroia to start the game.

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Brandon Morrow went on to walk Pedroia on five pitches. He later walked David Ortiz with one out, only to get out of the first on a double-play ball from Mike Carp.

The second inning played out the same way: Grady Sizemore and A.J. Pierzynski walked, but then Will Middlebrooks flew out to the wall in right and Jonathan Herrera grounded into a double play.

The third inning, on the other hand, started with two quick outs. And then everything unraveled. Morrow walked four in a row, bringing him up to eight for the afternoon and getting him pulled from the game, even though he still hadn’t allowed a hit. Chad Jenkins replaced him and immediately gave up a grand slam to Pierzynski, followed by another homer to Middlebrooks.

For Morrow, it was an ugly combination of bad control, a patient offense and a horrible day from Jeff Kellogg behind the plate. Just 26 of his 66 pitches were strikes, but as you can see, even before he established himself as lacking command on the day, the pitches on the corners weren’t being called. Opposing starter Clay Buchholz struggled with the same phenomenon, though he did bounce back nicely after a three-run first.

Morrow became the first starter to walk eight and throw no more than three innings since Houston’s Jonathan Johnson against the Red Sox in 2003. David Ortiz was in Boston’s lineup for that one, too, but he didn’t walk in the contest.

Prior to that, Kerry Wood walked eight in 1 1/3 innings for the Cubs in Sept. 2000. Steve Adkins did it for the Yankees in 1990. Those are the only three times it happened in the previous 35 years.

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.