Hey, the Indians finally won!

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The Indians moderately long regional nightmare is over:  they played the Twins today. They won 6-2. And they ended the 11 game losing streak.

They can certainly thank their Opening Day starter and their biggest bat: Justin Masterson went seven innings allowing two runs on three hits and Shin-Soo Choo went 4 for 4 with two driven in.  But they can also thank opposing second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who had a hand in four of the Indians six runs.

Nishioka committed an error on an ill-advised glove flip of a ball behind the bag, lost a routine pop fly in the sun despite it not being that sunny and despite wearing sunglasses, having it fall in for a double. He also made an awful throw to the plate. He was recalled from Triple-A on Monday, and since then he has made three errors, multiple misplays that weren’t scored as such and is 0 for 12 with a sacrifice fly. Twins broadcasters were openly derisive of his play during this game. We may have seen the last of him.

Regardless, congratulations Indians. Your streak of awfulness has ended. At least for a day.

 

 

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.