Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Ubaldo Jimenez has had a pretty rough start to the season, but he showed last night why the Orioles were willing to give him a four-year, $50 million contract over the winter. In addition to tossing 7 1/3 scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory over the Twins, he struck out a season-high 10 batters. It was his first win with Baltimore.

One of the most encouraging signs of all for Jimenez was that he only issued one walk. The veteran right-hander had allowed 17 free passes in 27 1/3 innings coming into Friday’s outing. He still owns an ugly 5.19 ERA for the year, but it was a step in the right direction.

As for Nelson Cruz, the Orioles’ other big offseason acquisition, he just keeps on rolling. He blasted a two-run homer off Ricky Nolasco last night and is now batting .297/.377/.594 with eight home runs and 27 RBI through 26 games.

With the Yankees’ loss last night, the Orioles currently sit in first-place in the American League East at 15-12.

Your Friday box scores:

Orioles 3, Twins 0

White Sox 5, Indians 12

Cardinals 5, Cubs 6

Rays 10, Yankees 5 (14 innings)

Mets 3, Rockies 10

Nationals 5, Phillies 3

Athletics 1, Red Sox 7

Blue Jays 5, Pirates 6

Tigers 8, Royals 2

Brewers 2, Reds 0

Mariners 4, Astros 5 (11 innings)

Dodgers 3, Marlins 6

Rangers 5, Angels 2

Giants 2, Braves 1

Diamondbacks 2, Padres 0

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.