Pace Is About Pitching

Clocking in at 3 hours and 55 minutes, the St. Louis Cardinals played their longest 9-inning game of the season on Tuesday night.

“It was just an awful pace,” said Mike Matheny afterwards. “I don’t know what to attribute it to, just it was one of those games. You’re talking high pitch counts and you could sense it was a different vibe.”

Those types of games will happen from time to time and the Cardinals aren’t alone in experiencing some longer games this season–overall the time of play has risen to 3 hours and 5 minutes per game, up from 3 hours and 4 minutes last year and 2 hours and 56 minutes in 2015.

The length of games itself is not the issue, but it is again a question of how does baseball speed up the pace of play?

Some ideas have been meant for comic relief–such as a Sporting News piece that suggests sudden death or mercy rule, limiting foul balls, or even outlawing umpire Joe West.

Meanwhile on they cite the pitch clock as their most realistic way of improving game play, as it’s already being tried and tested in the minor league ranks.

That would seem to lend itself to being the most influential as the Cardinals followed up their nearly 4 hour affair with a 2 hour and 19 minute game the next night with the Dodgers.

The difference? Both Carlos Martinez and Hyun-Jin Ryu worked at a quicker pace.

“I think it always comes down to, the pace of play does go back to the pitcher,” said Matheny after Wednesday’s quick outing. “And I think everybody has the ability to do their part–whether it’s getting in the box, making plays. Clean baseball helps pace of play. Yesterday was one of those days. Tight zone, high pitch counts all the way around. It’s just going to be one of those days. We’ve got to figure out how to get it done on those days too.”

photo credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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