Manny Machado has two hits in major league debut

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In the most hyped debut for an Orioles’ prospect since Matt Wieters back in 2009, Manny Machado went 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored in tonight’s 8-2 loss to the Royals.

Machado, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, started at third base and batted ninth. After grounding out to shortstop in his first at-bat in the second inning, he led off the fifth with an opposite-field triple to the right-center field gap and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Nick Markakis. Interestingly enough, Wieters’ first major league hit was also a triple.

Machado reached on an infield single in the seventh inning after beating out a slow roller to second base. He had a chance at a third hit in the ninth inning, but popped out behind second base for the final out of the ballgame. The 20-year-old looked pretty comfortable at third base despite making just two pro starts there prior to tonight’s game. Wilson Betemit should still get some playing time at the hot corner against some right-handed starters, but the O’s didn’t bring Machado up to have him sit on the bench.

Wei-Yin Chen had his worst start as a member of the Orioles tonight, giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. Billy Butler fell a single short of the cycle for the Royals, collecting a three-run homer, a double and his first triple since 2009. “Country Breakfast” had two chances for the elusive single, but he struck out swinging in his final two at-bats.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Orioles, who now sit at 60-52 on the year. They are currently 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and are in a flat-footed tie with the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot.

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.