Cardinals get off to quick start against Tim Lincecum in Game 4 of NLCS

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Tim Lincecum appeared to find himself while pitching in the bullpen this postseason, but that success hasn’t translated in his start tonight in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Cardinals.

Pitching exclusively out of the stretch, Lincecum allowed a single to Jon Jay and a walk to Matt Carpenter to begin the game before Matt Holliday delivered an RBI single. Angel Pagan made a nice running catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Allen Craig for the first out, but Carpenter scored on the play to make it 2-0.

The Cardinals had the chance for more in the bottom of the first, but Lincecum got Yadier Molina to fly out for the second out and worked around a single by David Freese to get Daniel Descalso to strike out swinging.

Coming into tonight’s start, Lincecum had allowed just one run on three hits over 6 1/3 relief innings this postseason to go along with nine strikeouts and one walk.

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.