Thursday, August 29, 2013

Major League Baseball on pace for 253 extra inning games in 2013 breaking record of 237 in 2011. Phillies outfielder pitched 18th inning of game on Aug. 24

8/29/13, "Extra-inning games on rise, but nothing free about it," Jorge L. Ortiz, USA Today Sports

"The Arizona Diamondbacks played in their National League-high 20th extra-inning game Tuesday, prevailing 10-9 against the San Diego Padres in 10 innings.

Towers can't quibble with the results, considering his Diamondbacks are 15-5 in extra-inning games, easily the best mark in the majors.

But he could do without the drama and added wear on his team, which is trying to hang on in the wild-card race. "We'll probably end up playing more like a 172-game schedule instead of 162. The good thing is we've ended up on the right side of them, but the negative thing is most of them we've created (with a leaky bullpen)," Towers said.

Towers is not the only one sweating out a growing number of longer games.

With 206 extra-inning games through Tuesday, Major League Baseball is on pace for 253 this season, which would break the record of 237 set in 2011. In no other season have more than 220 such affairs been played.

And the number of bullpen-draining, bench-depleting extended games is also on the rise. With a month remaining, there have been 28 games of 14 innings or more, compared with 20 last year.

The Diamondbacks, who have played seven games of at least 14 innings, battled the Philadelphia Phillies for 18 innings and 7 hours, 6 minutes at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday. Arizona rallied for five runs off Casper Wells — an outfielder to win 12-7 in a game that ended at 2:12 a.m., or about 11 hours before Sunday's first pitch.

The Phillies were forced to cancel Roy Halladay's minor league rehab outing and had him start for them Sunday because scheduled starter Tyler Cloyd pitched five innings of relief Saturday.

The evolution of bullpens is what some cite for the proliferation of games past regulation. With effective relievers shutting the door inning after inning, games can go into the wee hours.

"The bullpen used to be for exiled starters," Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It's not that way anymore. Everyone has specialists. The benches aren't as deep either, not in this league."

There's a correlation between those two observations. In the past, bullpens consisted of five or six relievers. Now, the norm is seven, and some teams go with eight.

That means fewer spots on the 25-man roster for bench players, and the near-disappearance of the pinch-hitting specialist who could end a game with a swing. The American League has a few because they can be used as designated hitters, but that's not an option in the NL.

Though TV ratings have a history of picking up when games go into extra innings, Towers is not so sure the so-called "bonus baseball" is all that popular.

"I think fans truly like crisp, close, low-scoring games, less than three hours, get home," Towers said. "You have to be really vested in your ballclub to watch over seven hours of baseball."


6 games went beyond regulation on Tues., 8/13, another 5 went into extras on Wed., 8/14.

8/15/13, "Extra special: More games going over nine frames," MLB.com, John Schlegel

"After six games went beyond the regulation nine innings Tuesday night, another five went into extras Wednesday to put the current tally at 191 for the season. The all-time record for a full season was set just two years ago, with 237 games going into extra innings in 2011, and that appears very much in jeopardy at this point.

The 2013 total is on a pace for approximately 259 extra-inning affairs this year, based on the percentage of games played thus far in the 2,430-game regular season. The pace was at 257 as of mid-June, so the possibility that 2013 will eclipse '11 remains real.

Also still on the rise are extra-long games, with 23 games of 14 innings or more played through Wednesday. There were 20 such games in 2012 -- another reason '13 is turning out to be extra special.

It's likely an era of tightened pitching and/or softened hitting -- depending on your point of view -- has been a contributing factor to this surge in overtime jobs, with fewer runs leading to more close games and more ties after nine. Perhaps competitive balance is a factor, too."...

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