Scott Rolen ranks among the best defensive third basemen in major league history and catcher Ryan Hanigan had a fantastic season behind the plate.
But baseball can be an incredibly cruel sport.
Hanigan let a Jonathan Broxton pitch get to the backstop with two outs in the top of the 10th inning, allowing Buster Posey to advance to third base and Hunter Pence to scoot over to second. And then Rolen bobbled what looked like a routine grounder off the bat of Joaquin Arias, allowing Posey to cross the plate for the go-ahead run. It was the Giants’ first lead of this five-game division series, and they’d hold onto it tightly.
Sergio Romo shut the Reds down in the bottom half of the 10th as San Francisco picked up a nail-biting 2-1 win and managed to avoid a sweep in Game 3 of the NLDS on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
The extra-inning loss spoiled a dominant effort by Reds starter Homer Bailey, who matched a career high with 10 strikeouts and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He wound up allowing just one run on one hit.
Game 4 on Wednesday will feature either Mike Leake or Mat Latos against San Francisco’s Barry Zito.
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.