It didn’t take long for baseball’s top prospect, Ronald Acuña, to make his mark. Yesterday he got his first hit, motored from first to third on a hustle play and then scored the tying run in the Braves win. Today he hit his first homer.
It was an upper deck shot off of Homer Bailey in the second inning. Come for the no-doubt-about it tape measure blast, stay for the Braves fan who caught it, grabbing his crap and running the hell out of there with it:
I don’t know where he was going with it. Given that he is an adult with a backpack at a ballgame, I assume he’s a ballhawk/autograph hound, so maybe he was running to put the thing on some memorabilia site. If he was smart — and a good person — however, he’d beeline for the Braves clubhouse entrance to give the ball to Acuña in exchange for some better merch that is not most notable for having Rob Manfred’s name on it.
I’m sure we’ll find out.
UPDATE: Acuña struck again in the eighth inning, doubling to right field and scoring Freddie Freeman to break a 4-4 tie. He then came around and scored to give the Braves a 6-4 lead. He has a single in this game as well, putting him a triple shy of the cycle. Reminder: he’s 20, and this is his second game.
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.