UPDATE: According to David Waldstein of the New York Times, Ellsbury is not in today’s lineup.
10:06 a.m. ET: Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stayed hot last night by going 2-for-5 with a homer, a triple, and two RBI against the Blue Jays, but he injured his left ankle on a slide into home plate in the ninth inning.
Ellsbury hurt the ankle by sliding into the leg of catcher Dioner Navarro. He was originally ruled safe on the play, but the call was overturned on a challenge. Ellsbury had a flouroscope that came back negative on the ankle, but he was limping around after the game and Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that he might not be available today.
“His ankle is sore,” Girardi said. “He hurt his ankle. I’m not sure what he’s going to be for us [Saturday]. I can’t tell you that he’s going to play. It’s frustrating because he’s playing so well. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Ellsbury has been on fire of late, hitting .455 (20-for-44) with four homers, one triple, one double, 11 RBI, and six stolen bases over his last 11 games.
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.