Shortened season, shorter games.
Big league doubleheaders will now become a pair of seven-inning games, baseball’s latest radical rule change during a season reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
Major League Baseball and the players’ union reached agreement Thursday on the new twinbills, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
ESPN first reported the doubleheader deal.
Baseball is filled with examples going back more than 100 years of major league games being shortened on the fly because of weather, darkness or a team’s travel schedule. But this is believed to be the first mandate across the sport to play games shorter than nine innings.
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 extras. The free runner will take his spot in doubleheader games that are tied after the seventh.
There are no doubleheaders currently scheduled in the majors, although the Chicago Cubs and the Reds will try to figure out a way to make up Thursday night’s rainout in Cincinnati.
Said Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon: “If the doubleheaders were to pile up for whatever reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan.”
“You just accelerate what you’re doing, just like we’re doing with the season. So I get it from the perspective of expediency if it’s necessary. ... I’m in for anything right now. I’m not going to speak badly of any kind of suggestion right now that people believe is going to help us get through the season, get through the playoffs and conclude them.”