Pat Burrell rejoins Giants lineup, but not as cleanup hitter

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Here are the lineups for Game 5 of the World Series:

   GIANTS                         RANGERS
1. Andres Torres, RF           1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B          2. Michael Young, 3B
3. Buster Posey, C             3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Cody Ross, LF               4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
5. Juan Uribe, 3B              5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. Aubrey Huff, 1B             6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Pat Burrell, DH             7. David Murphy, LF
8. Edgar Renteria, SS          8. Bengie Molina, C
9. Aaron Rowand, CF            9. Mitch Moreland, 1B

While the Rangers are going with their now-standard playoff lineup versus right-handed pitching, the Giants have made several changes.

Pat Burrell rejoins the lineup after sitting out Game 4, but does so while in the No. 7 spot after previously hitting fourth or fifth throughout the postseason. Burrell is just 6-for-38 (.158) with 19 strikeouts in the playoffs, but manager Bruce Bochy still wants his right-handed bat in there versus left-hander Cliff Lee.

Burrell serving as the designated hitter opens up an outfield spot for another right-handed hitter, Aaron Rowand, to make his first start since Game 4 of the NLCS. That moves Andres Torres to right field and gives the Giants a very strong defensive outfield to support Tim Lincecum. Oh, and Cody Ross is now the cleanup hitter for a team one victory from winning the World Series, which is easily the craziest sentence I’ve typed all season.

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.