UPDATE: Check that, Machado just went deep again. He clubbed a three-run shot in the bottom of the sixth inning that chased Hochevar from the ballgame. Here’s the video.
Per Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the 20-year-old is now the youngest player in Orioles history to have a multi-homer game. Goodness.
8:43 PM: It hasn’t taken long for Manny Machado to make an impact in Baltimore.
After going 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored in his major league debut last night, Machado hit his first career home run tonight against the Royals. The 20-year-old turned on a pitch from right-hander Luke Hochevar in the bottom of the fifth inning and deposited it over the left field fence. The solo shot put the Orioles in front 3-1.
You can watch the video of the home run here. Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun passes along word that Machado is the youngest Oriole to homer since Hall of Fame right-hander Jim Palmer did it on May 16, 1965 vs. the Yankees at the age of 19. How crazy is that?
We’ll likely see some growing pains in the days ahead, but the rookie has already made the surprising Orioles more interesting.
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.