Friday, November 16th, 2018 am30 7:31am

Shohei Ohtani tops Sergio Romo (and friends) in crazy MLB pitching matchup

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It was perhaps the most bizarre, eccentric, insane pitching matchup Sunday in the history of Major League Baseball.

Shohei Ohtani vs. Sergio Romo at Angel Stadium: What could possibly be wackier?

On one side: A rookie pitcher who was the Los Angeles Angels DH in the first two games of this series, who hit a jaw-dropping 513-foot homer in batting practice Saturday, and has hit more homers in his part-time DH role than homers he has given up in his gig as a full-time starter.

The other, a 35-year-old veteran who until Saturday night had never started a game in his 11-year career, spanning 588 relief appearances, the fourth most by any pitcher before making his first career start.

And, on just 18 hours’ rest, Romo started again Sunday afternoon.

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Romo became the first Rays pitcher older than 30 to start for the franchise in 603 games, dating to Erik Bedard on July 3, 2014. One day later, the Rays had their first consecutive starts by a pitcher older than 30 in franchise history, who happened to be the same guy.

It’s also the first time in six years a major league pitcher has started on consecutive days.

It happened last on July 7, 2012 when Zack Greinke, then with the Milwaukee Brewers, was ejected in a start after throwing four pitches against the Houston Astros and started again the next day. C.J. Wilson of the Angels faced five batters before a two-hour rain delay in 2012 and came back the next.

Texas Rangers pitcher Aaron Myette was ejected after two pitches in 2002 and returned the next day.

Steve McCatty started back-to-back games on April 14-15, 1980, for the Oakland Athletics, going 1⅔ innings the first game in a 7-1 loss to Seattle and returning the next day to go 8⅓ innings in a 12-3 victory.

What separates Romo from the pack is that he struck out the side in his one inning-stint Saturday, becoming the first pitcher since the Boston Red Sox’s Ernie Shore in 1915 to strike out the first three batters and leave a game. It wasn’t a gimmick 103 years ago but simply a move to give Shore some work two days before his Game 1 start of the World Series.

The Rays, watching it work so brilliantly Saturday, came back with him again Sunday.

Romo didn’t disappoint, striking out three of the six batters he faced, but walking two before turning the ball to right-hander Matt Andriese. Andriese lasted just two innings, coughing up the lead, and the Rays spent the rest of the game turning to reliever after reliever.

This is a team that’s had some wild, imaginary ideas this year.

The Rays originally planned to use a four-man rotation at the start of the season with relievers handling the fifth day. They scrapped that when Nathan Eovaldi got injured before opening day and even tried a three-man rotation with two bullpen days.

But now this.

The theory simply was for the right-handed Romo to face the right-handed-heavy top of the Angels batting order and limiting the number of times the next pitcher faces the Angels best hitters. The Rays, along with many others in today’s analytic world, believe that pitchers are at a clear disadvantage when facing hitters the third time in the order, no matter who’s on the mound.

“Three years ago, that was the biggest secret in the world,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But we’ve kicked around this idea for quite some time, and we definitely believe in it.”

And Romo, who won three World Series championships with the San Francisco Giants, absolutely loves this newfangled role.

“They’re asking me to be me,” Romo told the Tampa Bay Times. “The only thing that seems odd is it’s the very first inning of the game, possibly going into the second.”

And since the experiment worked so well Saturday in the Rays’ 5-3 victory, with left-hander Ryan Yarbrough yielding just four hits and one run in the next 6⅓ innings, the Rays were back at it again Sunday.

It’s too bad Angels manager Mike Scioscia didn’t counter by discarding the DH and letting Ohtani bat for himself, as he suggested he might try in September when rosters are expanded to 40 players.

Ohtani the hitter has produced a .321 average with six homers, 17 RBI and a .986 OPS. In April, he became only the fourth player in modern-day history to hit four home runs and strike out 25 or more in a month, the first since Ferguson Jenkins of the Chicago Cubs in September 1971.

Ohtani, who joined Babe Ruth as the only player to homer in three consecutive games in the same season he started a game as pitcher, even got the blessing from Scioscia to participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

Ohtani, who won the Japanese All-Star home run derby in 2016, ignited the conversation by hitting a 513-foot homer in batting practice Friday, off the 49-foot-high right-field scoreboard that’s behind 38 rows of seats.

If Ohtani is invited and wants to participate in the Home Run Derby at Nationals Park, Scioscia says he won’t stop him.

Hey, why not add to the legend?

Yet on this day, after going 2-for-7 with a homer the first two games of the series, Ohtani went the conventional approach and simply pitched.

He dominated once again with his 98-mph fastball and lethal split-finger, yielding just six hits and striking out nine in 7⅔ innings, retiring 12 consecutive batters at one point, leaving with a 4-2 lead after throwing a career-high 110 pitches. He’s now struck out 52 batters in 40⅓ innings.

Now, he’s 4-1 after the bullpen recorded the final four outs in a 5-2 victory.

The Rays? They did OK. Romo, Andriese, Jose Alvarado and Anthony Banda combined to hold the Angels to four runs while Ohtani was in the game, their bullpenning gambit nearly producing another victory.

But a quartet of decent pitchers aren’t as good as one Ohtani. And these days, the Angels’ best DH also serving as their best starter is as normal as it gets.

Whiff! Pitchers with 10-plus strikeouts in 2018 regular-season games

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May 18: Jacob DeGrom, Mets, 13 vs. Diamondbacks

May 18: Jacob DeGrom, Mets, 13 vs. Diamondbacks  Gregory Fisher, USA TODAY Sports
May 16: Trevor Bauer, Indians, 10 at Tigers

May 16: Trevor Bauer, Indians, 10 at Tigers  Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports
May 16: J.A. Happ, Blue Jays, 10 at Mets

May 16: J.A. Happ, Blue Jays, 10 at Mets  Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports
May 16: Nick Pivetta, Phillies, 11 at Orioles.

May 16: Nick Pivetta, Phillies, 11 at Orioles.  Evan Habeeb, USA TODAY Sports
May 15: Jose Berrios, Twins 10 vs. Cardinals.

May 15: Jose Berrios, Twins 10 vs. Cardinals.  Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports
May 15: Mike Foltynewicz, Braves, 10 vs. Cubs.

May 15: Mike Foltynewicz, Braves, 10 vs. Cubs.  Jason Getz, USA TODAY Sports
May 15: Jordan Lyles, Padres, 10 vs. Rockies.

May 15: Jordan Lyles, Padres, 10 vs. Rockies.  Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports
May 14: Andrew Heaney, Angels, 10 vs. Astros.

May 14: Andrew Heaney, Angels, 10 vs. Astros.  Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports
May 13: Freddy Peralta, Brewers, 13 vs. Rockies.

May 13: Freddy Peralta, Brewers, 13 vs. Rockies.  Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports
May 13: Jon Gray, Rockies, 10 vs. Brewers.

May 13: Jon Gray, Rockies, 10 vs. Brewers.  Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports
May 13: Clayton Richard, Padres, 10 vs. Cardinals.

May 13: Clayton Richard, Padres, 10 vs. Cardinals.  Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports
May 13: Shohei Ohtani, Angels,vs. Twins

May 13: Shohei Ohtani, Angels 11 vs. Twins  Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports
May 12: Charlie Morton, Astros, 14 vs. Rangers.

May 12: Charlie Morton, Astros, 14 vs. Rangers.  Erik Williams, USA TODAY Sports
May 11: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 11 at Diamondbacks.

May 11: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 11 at Diamondbacks.  Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
May 11: Chris Sale, Red Sox, 15 at Blue Jays.

May 11: Chris Sale, Red Sox, 15 at Blue Jays.  John E. Sokolowski, USA TODAY Sports
May 10: Vince Velasquez, Phillies, 12 vs. Giants

May 10: Vince Velasquez, Phillies, 12 vs. Giants  Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports
May 9: Carlos Carrasco, Indians, 14 at Brewers

May 9: Carlos Carrasco, Indians, 14 at Brewers  Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports
May 8: Luis Severino, Yankees, 11 vs. Red Sox.

May 8: Luis Severino, Yankees, 11 vs. Red Sox.  Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports
May 8: Aaron Nola, Phillies, 12 vs. Giants.

May 8: Aaron Nola, Phillies, 12 vs. Giants.  Eric Hartline, USA TODAY Sports
May 6: Chris Sale, Red Sox, 12 at Rangers

May 6: Chris Sale, Red Sox, 12 at Rangers  Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports
May 6: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 15 vs. Phillies

May 6: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 15 vs. Phillies  Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports
May 6: Mike Clevinger, Indians, 10 at Yankees

May 6: Mike Clevinger, Indians, 10 at Yankees  Wendell Cruz, USA TODAY Sports
May 5: Trevor Cahill, A's, 12 vs. Orioles.

May 5: Trevor Cahill, A’s, 12 vs. Orioles.  D. Ross Cameron, USA TODAY Sports
May 5: Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox, 10 vs. Rangers.

May 5: Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox, 10 vs. Rangers.  Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports
May 4: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 16 at Diamondbacks

May 4: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 16 at Diamondbacks  Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports
May 2: James Paxton, Mariners, 16 vs. Athletics

May 2: James Paxton, Mariners, 16 vs. Athletics  Joe Nicholson, USA TODAY Sports
May 2: Luis Severino, Yankees, 10 at Astros

May 2: Luis Severino, Yankees, 10 at Astros  Erik Williams, USA TODAY Sports
May 2: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, 11 vs. Pirates

May 2: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, 11 vs. Pirates  Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports
May 1: Justin Verlander, Astros, 14 vs. Yankees

May 1: Justin Verlander, Astros, 14 vs. Yankees  Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports
April 30: Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks, 10 vs. Dodgers

April 30: Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks, 10 vs. Dodgers  Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
April 30: Charlie Morton, Astros, 10 vs. Yankees

April 30: Charlie Morton, Astros, 10 vs. Yankees  Thomas Shea, USA TODAY Sports
April 30: Trevor Bauer, Indians, 11 vs. Rangers

April 30: Trevor Bauer, Indians, 11 vs. Rangers  David Richard, USA TODAY Sports
April 29: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 12 vs. A's.

April 29: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 12 vs. A’s.  Erik Williams, USA TODAY Sports
April 27: Corey Kluber, Indians, 10 vs. Mariners

April 27: Corey Kluber, Indians, 10 vs. Mariners  Scott R. Galvin, USA TODAY Sports
April 26: Kyle Gibson, Twins, 10 at Yankees

April 26: Kyle Gibson, Twins, 10 at Yankees  Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports
April 25: Trevor Richards, Marlins, 10 at Dodgers

April 25: Trevor Richards, Marlins, 10 at Dodgers  Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports
April 25: Jon Gray, Rockies, 11 vs. Padres

April 25: Jon Gray, Rockies, 11 vs. Padres  Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports
April 25: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 10 at Giants

April 25: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 10 at Giants  Cary Edmondson, USA TODAY Sports
April 24: J.A. Happ, Blue Jays, 10 vs. Red Sox

April 24: J.A. Happ, Blue Jays, 10 vs. Red Sox  John E. Sokolowski, USA TODAY Sports
April 24: Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks, 11 at Phillies

April 24: Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks, 11 at Phillies  Eric Hartline, USA TODAY Sports
April 24: Tyler Mahle, Reds, 11 vs. Braves

April 24: Tyler Mahle, Reds, 11 vs. Braves  David Kohl, David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22: Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks, 11 vs. Padres

Apr 22: Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks, 11 vs. Padres  Rick Scuteri, USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22: Caleb Smith, Marlins, 10 at Brewers

Apr 22: Caleb Smith, Marlins, 10 at Brewers  Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21: Sean Manaea, Athletics, 10 vs. Red Sox

Apr 21: Sean Manaea, Athletics, 10 vs. Red Sox  Kiel Maddox, USA TODAY Sports
April 21: Garrett Richards, Angels, 11 vs. Giants

April 21: Garrett Richards, Angels, 11 vs. Giants  Kelvin Kuo, USA TODAY Sports
April 21: Stephen Strasburg, 10 at Dodgers

April 21: Stephen Strasburg, 10 at Dodgers  Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports
April 21: Jacob deGrom, Mets, 10 at Braves

April 21: Jacob deGrom, Mets, 10 at Braves  Adam Hagy, USA TODAY Sports
April 19: Jake Arrieta, Phillies, 10 vs. Pirates

April 19: Jake Arrieta, Phillies, 10 vs. Pirates  Eric Hartline, USA TODAY Sports
April 18: Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, 10 vs. Padres.

April 18: Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, 10 vs. Padres.  Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports
April 17: Lance McCullers, Astros, 11 at Mariners

April 17: Lance McCullers, Astros, 11 at Mariners  Joe Nicholson, USA TODAY Sports
April 17: Johnny Cueto, Giants, 11 at Diamondbacks

April 17: Johnny Cueto, Giants, 11 at Diamondbacks  Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
April 16: Reynaldo López, White Sox, 10 vs. Athletics

April 16: Reynaldo López, White Sox, 10 at Athletics  Neville E. Guard, USA TODAY Sports
April 16: Jacob deGrom, Mets, 12 vs. Nationals

April 16: Jacob deGrom, Mets, 12 vs. Nationals  Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports
April 15: Justin Verlander, Astros, 11 vs. Rangers

April 15: Justin Verlander, Astros, 11 vs. Rangers  Shanna Lockwood, USA TODAY Sports
April 15: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 12 vs. Diamondbacks

April 15: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, 12 vs. Diamondbacks  Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports
April 15: Carlos Martinez, Cardinals, 11 at Reds

April 15: Carlos Martinez, Cardinals, 11 at Reds  David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports
April 15: Noah Syndergaard, Mets, 11 vs. Brewers.

April 15: Noah Syndergaard, Mets, 11 vs. Brewers.  Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports
April 14: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 11 vs. Rockies.

April 14: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 11 vs. Rockies.  Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports
April 14: Charlie Morton, Astros, 12 vs. Rangers.

April 14: Charlie Morton, Astros, 12 vs. Rangers.  Thomas Shea, USA TODAY Sports
April 13: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 14 vs. Rangers

April 13: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 14 vs. Rangers  Erik Williams, USA TODAY Sports
April 12: Jose Berrios, Twins, 11 strikeouts vs. White

April 12: Jose Berrios, Twins, 11 vs. White Sox  Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports
April 11: James Paxton, Mariners, 10 vs. Royals

April 11: James Paxton, Mariners, 10 vs. Royals  Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports
April 10: Blake Snell, Rays, 10 vs. White Sox

April 10: Blake Snell, Rays, 10 vs. White Sox  Matt Marton, USA TODAY Sports
April 9: Corey Kluber, Indians, 13 vs. Tigers

April 9: Corey Kluber, Indians, 13 vs. Tigers  Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports
April 9: Max Scherzer, 10 vs Braves

April 9: Max Scherzer, 10 vs Braves  Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports
April 8: Shohei Ohtani, 11 vs. Athletics

April 8: Shohei Ohtani, Angels, 12 vs. Athletics  Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports
April 7: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 11 vs. Padres

April 7: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 11 vs. Padres  John Glaser, USA TODAY Sports
Carlos Martinez (18) throws a pitch in the sixth inning

April 4: Carlos Martinez, Cardinals, 10 at Brewers  Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Corbin (46) pitches against the Los Angeles

April 4: Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks, 12 vs. Dodgers  Joe Camporeale-, USA TODAY Sports
April 3: Cole Hamels, Rangers, 11 at Athletics.

April 3: Cole Hamels, Rangers, 11 at Athletics  Andrew Villa, USA TODAY Sports
April 1: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 11 at Rangers

April 1: Gerrit Cole, Astros, 11 at Rangers  Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports
March 31: Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, 10 vs. Giants

March 31: Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, 10 vs. Giants  Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports
March 31: Lance McCullers Jr., Astros, 10 at Rangers

March 31: Lance McCullers Jr., Astros, 10 at Rangers  Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports
March 30: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 10 at Reds

March 30: Max Scherzer, Nationals, 10 at Reds  David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports
March 29: Noah Syndergaard, Mets, 10 vs. Cardinals

March 29: Noah Syndergaard, Mets, 10 vs. Cardinals  Gregory Fisher, USA TODAY Sports

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