Pace of play? The Diamondbacks and Rockies hold the longest 9-inning game in National League history
You don’t hear about pace of play this season as much as you did when the new rules to speed up baseball games were instituted in 2015. But don’t be mistaken; it remains one of commissioner Rob Manfred’s top initiatives. And frankly, he’s fighting a losing battle right now.
Game times are up in 2016, surpassing the dreaded three-hour mark as of mid-May. The biggest culprit? There’s just more of stuff. More pitches, more walks, more strikeouts and more balls staying out of play. Those add up, and you had the perfect storm Friday night when the Rockies hosted the Diamondbacks.
It took 4 fours and 30 minutes for the D’Backs to pull off the 10-9 comeback victory. The game time bested a 15-year National League record for longest nine-inning game by 3 minutes. The previous record-holder was a Dodgers-Giants tilt from 2001.
This one had all the ingredients for a extraordinarily long game: 19 runs; 30 hits; 13 walks; 16 strikeouts (eh, that’s not too bad); six mid-inning pitching changes (serenity now!).
As pointed out by the Rockies’ SB Nation blog, Purple Row, the teams combined for 46 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That is pretty amazing to fathom but easy to understand when you see that there were 12 doubles (tied for the most in a game this year), six stolen bases, five errors, three wild pitches, two balks and all of those damn walks. There were actually 60 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, and imagine how much longer this game would have lasted if the teams had hit better than .196 in those RISP situations.
I never want to complain about game times; my life is always better at the ballpark. But it’s games like this one that make Manfred tear out what’s remaining of his hair. Moreover, there’s really nothing he can do to stop these types of games from occurring. For all of his rules and suggestions, he can’t force pitchers to throw strikes. He can’t stop fielders from booting balls. He can’t stop hitters from taking so many pitches. Like the fans, he just has to sit there and wait for the game to, at some point, end.
If you’re a baseball player, it sounds nice to have your name stand alone alongside a guy with “Babe” and “Herman” in his name.
Well, Aaron Hill isn’t exactly in line with the formally known George Ruth, but what the 30-year old did tonight was certainly historic.
With a double in the first, a single in the third, a home run in the fourth, and a triple in the sixth, The Diamondbacks second baseman hit for Major League Baseball’s second cycle this season. The first one was completed by … hey, how about that, Aaron Hill. Thus, Hill became just the second player since 1900 to record two cycles in one season. The only other member of that club is Floyd “Babe” Herman. A fine hitter in his own right, and you’ve got to give him points for having “Caves” as a middle name.
Herman’s two single-season cycles came in 1931 while playing for the Brooklyn Robins. By 1932, the Robins became the Dodgers. Herman’s two cycles in 1931 occurred 67 days apart. Hill had to wait a mere 11 days to join him.
Herman is also one of two players — along with New York Yankee Bob Meusel — who hold the record for three cycles in a career. Hill’s got some time to reach that mark. Hell, he might do it by July 4th. For now, Hill is now one of the 19 players with two career cycles.
Summer officially began Wednesday. At 4:09 p.m. Pacific Time, if you need to know the exact minute. If you didn’t know, baseball pretty much signaled the change of seasons for us. Right on cue, temperatures went up and baseball went with them.
There were 42 homers hit today. That doesn’t come close to the record, which I believe is still 62 from July 2, 2002, but it’s still impressive. It’s certainly no coincidence that three of the four day games on the schedule provided some serious fireworks.
The Yankees (four) and Braves (five) combined for nine home runs. That’s the most in the four-season history of the new Yankee Stadium. In Atlanta’s case, there’s probably a better explanation for the power explosion than just the 94-degree heat: Philip Joseph Hughes.
The Diamondbacks tied a franchise record with six home runs versus the Mariners in an always fun football-score game, 14-10. There was one that didn’t quite make it. It was the third time Arizona had hit six. Aaron Hill homered for the fourth consecutive game and has 10 hits in his past 16 at-bats.
The Brewers and Blue Jays hit a total of five home runs, including No. 20 for both Ryan Braun and Edwin Encarnacion.
The Royals-Astros game was the only one played with the warmth that didn’t have a home run. That fact raises this question: What the hell is their problem? Hey, guys: Play along or get the f— out.
Well, at least summer is here. That’ll probably squash all of these no-hitters and one-hitters and talk of pitching domination. Unless pitchers start hitting home runs every night. In that case, I give up.