Written by Jason Stark, Patrick Mooney, Nick Grock, C. Trent Rosecrans, and Andy McCullough
MLB’s 15 Opening Day games averaged 2 hours and 45 minutes on Thursday, 26 minutes shorter than last year’s average, marking a successful start to the regular season for the pitch clock that was introduced to shorten games as part of new league rule changes. . Here’s what you need to know:
- Opening Day last year, with seven games, averaged 3 hours and 11 minutes.
- None of the first seven games completed on a Thursday passed the equivalent of the average opening day games time last year.
- Only two of the first seven matches completed this year have been longer than the shortest opening day match last year. The shortest Opening Day games last year were two hours and 49 minutes.
- Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman committed the first pitch-clock violation of the regular season, while Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers was the first batter called for a pitch-clock violation Thursday.
More notable numbers
On Thursday, one of two of the first seven games that lasted 2:49 or longer was the Orioles’ 10-9 win over the Red Sox, which was 3 hours and 10 minutes.
The Reds vs. Buccaneers game lasted 3 hours and 2 minutes. The game had 15 walks and 26 strikeouts, and neither baserunner lasted more than five innings.
the athleteInstant Analysis:
How did the stadium clock perform?
By the end of spring training, everyone seemed to not only have grown accustomed to the court clock, but had also largely forgotten it—except for celebrating a one-hour, 52-minute game as Reds quarterback Graham Ashcraft did in late spring. .
On Thursday, though, both Pirates and Reds players had a pitch clock violation and both of those plate appearances ended up at home with the hitter. Is this related? Probably not, but there are more signs of shakiness in the regular season than in the spring where results don’t matter.
In the end, though, even if the game feels grueling, especially with 15 walks and 26 strikeouts, the posted time for the game is still only 3:02, which a year ago would have been considered a fast game. – Rosecrans
Show hour results for Reds vs Pirates Opening Day game canceled
I’m here to report that the watch works on the West Coast, too. Take the game between the Padres and the Rockies. San Diego writer Blake Snell played his usual passive clip. He needed 24 pitches to complete the first inning. He threw 70 pitches through three. The reliever behind him didn’t fare much better, in a 7-2 loss to Colorado. The fund score indicates a delayed contest with a losing pace. And the game still ends in 2:56, 10 minutes shorter than the average game in 2022.
The other late games were just as breezy. The Mariners closed out a 3-0 ranked victory over the Guardians in 2:14. The Athletics downed the Angels, 2-1, at 2:30. The Dodgers crushed the Diamondbacks, 8-2, in just 2:35 — and that was a game that featured five different Arizona pitchers and several pitch changes in the middle of the inning.
It’s hard to argue with the early results. Time will tell – excuse the phrase – about the far-reaching consequences of the watch. But you can’t question dead air reduction. – McCullough
What do the times of the workday tell us about the effect of the clock?
Spring training games continued at a pace not seen in over 40 years. Games averaged 2 hours 35 minutes in the spring – 26 minutes shorter than last spring and 31 minutes shorter than last year’s regular season average.
No one in the sport thought the pace was sustainable this year once the season started, for all sorts of rationale. But 2:40? Maybe 2:45? There was genuine optimism that an average somewhere in that range could be achieved. Thursday’s games seem to prove that.
The first nine games of the day averaged exactly 2:45. Five were shorter than that. Only four were longer.
Up to a 10-9 game in Boston – which includes 44 basemen, 10 outfield changes, two pinch hitters and two runners. – It only lasted 3:10. A year earlier on Opening Day, a 3-1 Astros-Angels game – It includes only 18 starting players – Continue for 3:15. Not a single game completed all day at 2:45.
So what did the game times tell us on Thursday? Pitch hours can bring its share of violations and unintended consequences. But do they work? Are they dumping all the dead time out of these games? Do they reduce playing times to a reasonable length? This is not in doubt. – Stark
what are they saying
Stroman committed the violation in the third inning of Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Brewers with Christian Yelich at-bat and no score. The violation was called after Strowman turned to catch Bryce Turang driving to second base. He worked around a walk on the end to Yelich after the machine ball made it 2-2.
Stroman spent part of spring training in the non-pitch clock World Baseball Classic and admitted that there were times when he felt “too rushed” on the mound.
“I don’t think people really realize that it adds a whole other layer of reasoning,” said Stroman. “You have to be aware of the clock. You’re trying to worry about the pitch. You’re trying to worry about the guys on base. You’re trying to worry about your grip. There’s a lot going on right now.”
He gave up three walks and three hits while getting eight hits. Stroman noted that he is a pitcher who is “able to get off the mound and breathe when I need to be”.
“I don’t have the chance to do that anymore,” Strowman said. “Breathing is very important for aligning the body and putting yourself in the perfect position to get the ball to the plate. Like I said, I think it spoils a lot of the players’ pre-court routine, which can ultimately affect their presentation.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, speaking on air during the Rangers telecast Thursday, said the league would not “stand on its feet” regarding the ballpark clock. Manfred said he hoped the referees would exercise some caution late in the matches to allow for slower, tense moments. During spring training, coaches and players across the league expressed concern that the game might end in a court clock violation or in the middle of a situation where the game is getting too difficult right now.
As Manfred speaks, the game in Texas is halted for several minutes after Jacob deGrom’s PitchCom hardware crashes.
In the Red Sox game against the Orioles, Devers walked out of the batter’s box in the eighth inning and was not set within eight seconds after running back, resulting in his violation. He was written off after the violation because he had already taken two strikes. Baltimore went on to win 10-9.
Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson was asked about the rules before Wednesday’s practice.
“I have a lot of ideas,” Swanson said. “I just don’t need any of them to get me into trouble. I definitely think there are some adjustments that can be made. But as I said very early on, we have three options. One of them is just complaining about it all year, which won’t do anyone any good.” The second is just to embrace it and find ways to use it to our advantage. And the third is for nobody to play, and I don’t think that’s going to happen either. So we’re left with one option, and that’s just to embrace it and use it to our advantage and do our best to play this new brand of baseball.”
MLB introduced the Stadium Hour in the spring, with the goal of simplifying entertainment for fans. Pitchers get 20 seconds to begin throwing motions with runners on base and 15 seconds to do so with the bases empty. The umpires evaluate the ball to pitchers who do not start their motions before the clock is up and a hit to the batter who is not in the box and a “blow to the pitcher” within eight seconds.
The commissioner’s office said in September that the implementation of the court clock in the minor leagues last year reduced average game time by 25 minutes.
(Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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