World Series, Game 4: Royals vs. Giants lineups

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With the Royals up 2-1 over the Giants in the 2014 World Series, here are the lineups for Game 4 tonight in San Francisco. First pitch is slated for 8:07 p.m. ET:

Royals:
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
RF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
3B Mike Moustakas
2B Omar Infante
C Salvador Perez
CF Jarrod Dyson
SP Jason Vargas

Royals manager Ned Yost is back with the same lineup he used in Game 3 last night. That means that Alex Gordon is in the No. 2 spot once again while Jarrod Dyson is in center field and Mike Moustakas is batting fifth for the second straight day. Nori Aoki and Billy Butler remain on the bench.

Giants:
CF Gregor Blanco
2B Joe Panik
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Brandon Belt
LF Juan Perez
SS Brandon Crawford
SP Ryan Vogelsong

While the Royals are sticking with their lineup from Game 3, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is making some changes with left-hander Jason Vargas on the hill for Kansas City. Juan Perez will make his second start of the postseason in left field, pushing Travis Ishikawa to the bench. Michael Morse apparently isn’t ready to play the field quite yet. The change will make the defense stronger at the very least. That could be critical with some tricky winds expected. Meanwhile, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval have flip-flopped in the order.

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.