Pitch Clocks Made a Big Difference on Opening Day

Games were an average of 18 minutes shorter
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2023 9:09 AM CDT
MLB Opening Day Games Were a Lot Shorter This Year
Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani stands near pitch clock before batting in 4th inning against Oakland Athletics during Opening Night at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, March 30, 2023.   (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Thursday was Major League Baseball's opening day—and with the pitch clock in use for the first time, games were a lot shorter than what fans have gotten used to in recent years. The average game was 2 hours and 45 minutes, 18 minutes shorter than last year's nine-inning average, Axios reports. The 30-second timer between batters was implemented for a "quicker pace of play," per MLB.com. "Between pitches, a 15-second timer will be in place with the bases empty and a 20-second timer with runners on base," the new rules state. The pitch clock cut an average of more than 20 minutes from spring training games.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman made history with the first-ever pitch clock violation, the New York Times reports. "It’s tough, this pitch clock,” Stroman told reporters after the team's 4-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. "It’s a big adjustment. I don’t think people really realize it. It just adds a whole other layer of thinking." It was the first of 14 violations on a day of 15 games, with all MLB teams playing on opening day for the first time since 1968, the AP reports. Pitchers who violate the timer are charged with an automatic ball, per MLB.com. For batters who violate the timer by not being in the box and alert to the pitcher by the 8-second mark, it's an automatic strike.

Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox also made it into the record books Thursday as the first hitter to strike out via a pitch clock violation, the AP reports. New rules and larger bases also led to many more stolen bases than usual, Axios notes. There were 21 stolen bases on 23 attempts Thursday, compared to just six on opening day last year. (Read more Major League Baseball stories.)

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