Minor league baseball’s new extra-inning rules have led to a series of wild firsts in professional baseball. In some instances, they’ve even proven to make the previously impossible possible. That’s exactly how we would describe what went down during one minor-league game on Friday night.
Until now, there was simply no way a full half-inning consisting of three outs could be completed on just two pitches. In 2018, it can happen, and actually did happen for what’s believed to be the first time at the professional level during a Class A game between the Rome Braves (Atlanta Braves affiliate) and West Virginia Power (Pittsburgh Pirates).
New rule helps minor-league team complete two-pitch inning
Under the extra-inning rules, each half inning beyond regulation is started with a runner on second base. The runner is either the ninth batter due to bat in the current inning, or a pinch-runner if the batting team so chooses.
That’s how the inning in question started Friday. Rome pitcher Hayden Deal was tasked with recording three outs without letting the runner stationed at second base score. On the first pitch of the inning, West Virginia’s Calvin Mitchell hit a line drive to second baseman Derian Cruz, who then stepped on second base to double off Oneil Cruz. The next hitter, Deon Stafford, lined the next pitch to third baseman Marcos Almonte to end the inning.
Just like that, the fastest half-inning we’ve ever seen was over. The time from first pitch delivery to the final out being caught was 39 seconds.
Making the situation even better for Deal? His teammates managed to knock their runner home from second base in the bottom half of the inning, giving him the victory in their 4-3 win.
Maybe it’s not quite as cool as a pitcher winning a game without a throwing a pitch, which has happened in MLB. But it’s still different and awesome.
Second wild extra-inning rule occurrence this week
On its own, a two-pitch inning is pretty crazy. When you combine it with the other incredible outcome related to the extra-inning rule from earlier this week, we may have reached baseball’s version of the Twilight Zone.
The Tampa Tarpons, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the New York Yankees, pitched a no-hit, no-walk game against the Clearwater Threshers, a Philadelphia Phillies affiliate, and still lost. That’s because the runner placed at second base came around on an error and fielder’s choice.
We can’t decide which scenario of these two is crazier. Thanks to these rules though, we should probably expect a lot more previously unimaginable scenarios to play out.
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