And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 4: That Nationals have won seven in a row, with the last three being of the walkoff variety. This time courtesy of Adam LaRoche’s homer in the 11th inning. Leading up to it was a lot of fun: Wilson Ramos put the Nationals in front in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-run homer and the Dbacks went back into the lead when Didi Gregorius did the same in the top of the eighth. The Nats came back in the ninth only to see Tyler Clippard blow the save in the ninth. In the Arizona half of the 11th they loaded the bases with no one out and then didn’t score, which is about the most annoying thing on the planet. If anything the LaRoche homer put them out of their misery.

Cubs 4, Mets 1: Kyle Hendricks and two relievers combined to allow one run on four hits and got all the support they’d need thanks to homers from Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez. The three of them will, hopefully for Cubs fans, represent a winning combination for years and years.

Angels 4, Red Sox 2: Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hit RBI doubles. The Sox threatened in the ninth against fill-in closer Kevin Jepsen, but Jepsen worked around trouble, allowing only one run to score.

Orioles 8, White Sox 2: An uncharacteristically poor outing for Chris Sale, who needed 121 pitches just to make it through six. The O’s took advantage, led by Nick Markakis who was 3 for 5 with a homer. He also had a pretty darn swell catch.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $125,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Phillies 4, Mariners 1: Jerome Williams allowed one run and three hits while pitching into the eighth. Andres Blanco had a three-run homer. Before coming up at the end of June, Blanco had not played in the majors since 2011.

Royals 6, Twins 4: Erik Kratz came in to replace Sal Perez in the seventh and homered twice. That’s kinda how it’s been going for the Royals. Jason Vargas allowed one run on four hits in seven innings.

Braves 7, Pirates 3: Six runs in the first — kicked off by back-to-back homers from Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons to lead things off — pretty much ended this one before it started. Six in a row dropped by the Pirates. Whose season looks like it could be ending before it’s even technically finished.

Cardinals 6, Reds 5: Jhonny Peralta hit a walkoff single in the tenth. This after Trevor Rosenthal blew the save in the ninth. Jay Bruce homered, doubled and drove in four in a winning effort in a losing effort.

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.