Big league doubles will now become a seven-inning pair of games, baseball’s latest radical rule change in a season reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
Major League Baseball and the players’ union reached an agreement on the new twinbills on Thursday, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as there was no official announcement.
ESPN initially reported the deal on two counts.
Baseball is replete with examples dating back over 100 years of major league games shortened on the fly due to the weather, darkness, or a team’s travel schedule. But it’s believed to be the sport’s first term to play under-nine innings.
One rule that remains to be decided, following the shortened games: Can a starting pitcher who throws four innings get credit for a win?
MLB had already added designated hitters to National League games this year and added an automatic runner at second base to start all half innings in the extras. The free runner will take his place in the double title matches which are tied after the seventh.
The Cleveland Indians swept the Chicago White Sox earlier this week in the first double of the season. The new rule will take effect Saturday for the remainder of the season – the Toronto Blue Jays were due to play a twinbill in Philadelphia that day, but it was dropped after two Phillies staff members tested positive for the virus .
There is no double schedule in the majors right now, although the Chicago Cubs and Reds will try to find a way to make up for the rain on Thursday night in Cincinnati.
With a compressed 60-game schedule that includes a few days off, there’s a good chance that weather-created double headers will be needed. Shortened matches will be a way for clubs to conserve their throwing resources.
Seven-innings doubles have been commonplace for years in minor leagues and college.
Major league players, owners and general managers had discussed this week the possibility of shortening the doubles.
“I like nine and nine, personally,” New York Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino said Wednesday. “I don’t want to be sidelined outside of the game, once we have played seven innings, slippery games there. ”
Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon said: “If the duplicates were to pile up for some reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan. ”
“You just speed up what you do, just like we do with the season. So I get it from an opportunity standpoint, if it’s necessary.… I’m up for anything right now. I’m not going to do it. Speaks badly of any sort of suggestion right now that people think is going to get us through the season, get through the playoffs and wrap it up, ”he said.