Tigers beat Royals to clinch AL Central

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The White Sox emphatically defeated the Indians 11-0 on Monday night, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The Tigers came through to beat the Royals 6-3 to clinch the AL Central.

Miguel Cabrera went 4-for-5 with a homer in the win to move closer to the Triple Crown. He raised his average to .329, pushing him seven points ahead of Joe Mauer at .322 (Mauer went 1-for-5 tonight). The homer was his league-high 44th.

Jhonny Peralta also homered for Detroit. Prince Fielder went 4-for-5 in the cleanup spot.

Aiding the Tigers’ cause was Jeff Francoeur. He threw a big wrench into a potential sixth-inning  rally by hitting into a double play with the bases loaded and none out. He later singled in a run in the eighth, only to get thrown out trying to take second. It took the Royals out of an inning in which they should have had two on with two out.

The loss leaves Kansas City 71-89. Unless the Royals claim the next two games — perhaps a possibility with the Tigers having nothing to play for — they’ll lose 90 games for the fourth straight year and the 10th time since 2001.

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.