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Astros defeat Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7 to end 55-year championship drought

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The Astros have only been around since 1962, but their history is quite interesting. Some of the greatest players of all time have worn an Astros uniform, including Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell. The Astros switched leagues, moving from the NL Central to the AL West after the 2012 season. But one thing they had been unable to claim in their 55-year history was a championship.

That changed on Wednesday night as the Astros finally vanquished the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. They scored twice in the first inning and three times in the second against Yu Darvish, sustaining them over the remaining seven innings. For a recap of the scoring, click here.

Starter Lance McCullers wasn’t brilliant by any means, as he hit four batters, but he was able to execute pitches when he needed to most, which resulted in the Dodgers going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Ultimately, McCullers went 2 1/3 innings, yielding three hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Brad Peacock got the final two outs of the third inning, then remained in the game until putting Dodgers on first and second with one out in the fifth inning. Francisco Liriano and Chris Devenski combined to clean up that mess, getting an out apiece.

Charlie Morton took the hill to begin the sixth and found himself in hot water, putting his first two batters on base via a single and a walk. With one out, Andre Ethier was able to sneak a ground ball single into right field to put the Dodgers on the board. Morton, however, buckled down and struck out Chris Taylor, then got Corey Seager to ground out. Morton then worked a 1-2-3 seventh and eighth.

In the ninth, Morton came back out for another inning of work. He struck out pinch-hitter Chase Utley, got Taylor to ground out weakly, and Seager to ground out to seal another 1-2-3 inning and the 5-1 victory.

The Astros defeated the Dodgers, who had baseballs best record. And they beat them at Dodger Stadium, where the Dodgers compiled baseball’s best home record. The Astros are your 2017 world champions.

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.