There was nothing settled in Baltimore this weekend: the Yankees crushed the Orioles 13-3 on Sunday to earn a split of the four-game series and maintain a one-game lead in the AL East.
Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter homered in the rout.
The Yankees took a 5-0 lead in a four-run fourth inning that included a pair of bases-loaded walks. Baltimore came right back with three runs in the bottom of the frame, but that amounted to all of the team’s scoring on the day. The Yankees turned it into a laugher by scoring two in the seventh and five in the eighth.
Granderson became the first Yankee since at least 1918 to knock in five runs in a game in which he didn’t start. He pinch-hit for Andruw Jones after the Orioles replaced left-hander Zach Britton and had a solo homer, a two-run single and a two-run double in his three at-bats.
The Cubs’ David DeJesus and the Athletics’ Seth Smith have also had five-RBI games off the bench this year.
Joba Chamberlain got his first win of the year for the Yankees after relieving Freddy Garcia in the fourth and pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
While nothing was settled in the standings this weekend, it will likely prove to be a costly series for both teams. Nick Markakis is out six weeks with a broken thumb after being hit by a CC Sabathia pitch, and Mark Teixeira could be done for at least the regular season after aggravating his calf Saturday night.
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.