The back-and-forth continues, Red Sox knot the game at 4-4 in the eighth

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The Red Sox were responsible for the fourth lead-change of the night as they knotted Game 3 up at four apiece with a two-run rally in the bottom of the eighth against the exalted Cardinal bullpen. Carlos Martinez put the first two batters he faced on base, allowing a lead-off single to Jacoby Ellsbury, then hitting Shane Victorino in the thigh with a slider. Dustin Pedroia advanced both runners with a weak grounder to shortstop Pete Kozma. With a base open, Martinez intentionally walked David Ortiz before manager Mike Matheny removed him from the game.

The flamethrowing Trevor Rosenthal entered the game with the bases loaded and one out, a tall task for anyone, even those that can hit 100 MPH. Nava slugged a line drive into the ground just in front of Kolten Wong, who just entered the game as a defensive substitute, who played the ball on a hop and fired to shortstop Kozma to attempt the double play. Kozma’s toss to first was a second too late, so Ellsbury scored to cut the score to 4-3. Xander Bogaerts followed up with a high chopper up the middle which Kozma couldn’t corral. Victorino scored the tying run. Saltalamacchia grounded out to end the inning.

Will the Cardinals summon up their black magic to pull off a last-ditch victory at home? Will the beard power of the Red Sox push them through a tough game on the road? Buckle up, folks.

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.