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Pitch clock hits a home run on Opening Day, shortening games by 26 minutes over 2022

Every MLB team has survived the first day of the pitch clock era. And even with just 15 games in the books of the 2,430 that will be played this year, we know one thing: The pitch clock is making a huge difference.

The average time for all of Thursday's Opening Day games was 2 hours, 45 minutes. That's 26 minutes shorter than the average of all 2022 Opening Day games, which was 3 hours, 11 minutes. Here's the duration of every game played Thursday.

The longest game was 3 hours, 38 minutes, and the shortest was 2 hours, 4 minutes. Compare that to 2022, and you see some major differences. The longest Opening Day game in 2022 was 3 hours, 56 minutes, and the shortest was 2 hours, 49 minutes. In fact, 13 of the 15 games played on Opening Day 2022 lasted at least three hours. In 2023, just five games were longer than three hours, and four of those were finished in 3:10 or less.

In the very, very short term (literally one day), the pitch clock seems to be achieving its goal. The games are shorter, and the pace of play is quicker.

Kansas City Royals' Michael Massey (19) walks back to the dugout after an at-bat during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Monday, March 27, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)
The pitch clock made its official MLB debut on Thursday, and it was a smashing success. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

But since the pitch clock was such a major change, there will be ramifications beyond the shorter game times. And a lot more than 15 games need to be played to identify and understand how the pitch clock has impacted the game. How has it affected pitchers overall? Are they struggling with the time limit when they're in a jam and stressed out? How are hitters adjusting? Will catchers be more durable since they're not squatting as much? And what about the fans? Will the pace of play change fan behavior?

That's just a small sampling of the many questions that will be asked in the coming weeks and months (and even years). This is legitimately new, untrodden ground for every player, every manager and every fan. With just one day of the six-month season completed, the only thing we know for sure is that games are shorter. With every game that's played, we'll learn more about how baseball will look in 2023 and beyond.