(Chicago) Marcus Stroman is getting used to the new stopwatch that is now found in every Major League Baseball stadium. And for the right-handed Chicago Cubs pitcher, that’s no small feat.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “It’s a big adjustment. »
Stroman was the first scorer to be flagged for taking too long to throw to home plate, in the third inning of the game, the Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday afternoon 4-0 at Wrigley. field.
It was the first of 14 violations in 15 games over the course of one day, when games lasted an average of 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, the number of goal steal attempts per game has more than doubled from the previous opening day, an indication that efforts to increase trail runs may be working.
The Runners had 21 steals in 23 attempts on Thursday, compared with five in nine attempts in seven games on Day One of the 2022 season.
Five violations were committed by batters, eight by pitchers, and one by catcher on Opening Day, when all clubs began the season on the same date, the first since 1968.
Stroman looked long in the direction of rookie Brice Turang, who caught his spread from second base with Christian Yelich at pinch hitter and there were no outs.
Just as Stroman focused his attention on Yelich, plate umpire Ron Kulpa called out the new rule violation.
Announcing his decision, Kulpa pointed to his wrist. The automatic ball brought the count to two balls and two strikes.
Stroman did not protest.
“You have to keep an eye on the timer. You try to worry about your pitch. You try to pay attention to runners on the trails. You try to make sure you have a good grip on the ball. There’s so much going on right now,” noted Stroman.
“So it definitely adds another element to the game that is challenging, in all honesty. There’s no doubt that it’s not easy being a pitcher there and feeling rushed at times.”
Major League Baseball instituted the use of a stopwatch to speed up the pace of games. Players have 30 seconds to restart play between two batsmen. Between pitches, pitchers have 15 seconds when there are no runners on the trails, and 20 seconds if there are. Batsmen must be seated in the box and show that they are ready to tackle the pitcher with at least eight seconds on the clock.
If a pitcher fails to pitch in time, the penalty is an automatic ball. If the batsman is not ready in the required time, the penalty is an automatic strike.
Boston Red Sox star hitter Rafael Devers became the first batter to be called a third strike for a rule violation.
Devers was looking down at the ground and busy wiping dirt off his cleats in the eighth inning when Lance Barksdale signaled a foul when the Red Sox hitter had two strikes against him.
“There are no excuses,” said Red Sox head coach Alex Cora. “They know the rules. »
JD Davis of the San Francisco Giants was the first batter fouled in the ninth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Atlanta Braves reliever Collin McHugh spread his arms out to his sides after being penalized by official Dan Bellino in game eight against the Nationals.
The penalty resulted in batter Jeimer Candelario being left with a favorable one-ball count and no strikeouts. He then let three more shots out of the strike zone for what was actually a three-ball free pass.
“I didn’t even realize it happened, honestly,” said Braves head coach Brian Snitker. “It will happen. »
Inauguration Day went generally well, but there were some issues in Miami.
In the fifth inning, New York Mets starting ace Max Scherzer tackled Marlins slugger Bryan De La Cruz until the clock reached zero.
De La Cruz started shouting “Bullet! Ball ! Ball ! – hoping to be credited with an automatic bullet. However, plate official Larry Vanover believed the hitter was requesting a timeout.
Scherzer went unpunished with an automatic and then forced De La Cruz to hit a low fly.
The next inning, Vanover frustrated Mets star Jeff McNeil with a transgression that he decided to cancel this time around.
McNeil was waiting for teammate Pete Alonso to return to first base after a foul ball when Vanover gave him an automatic grab. The decision led to an altercation with McNeil and Mets manager Buck Showalter, who appeared irritated that the clock had started before Alonso returned to first base.
For McNeil, not much changed in the end; a few pitches later, he hit a ground ball that crossed the infield for a single return for a run.
“I love the rhythm,” said Scherzer. “I don’t like the clock. My opinion on this is firm. I think the employee should be free to turn off the clock. »
In a 10-9 victory over the Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles stole five bases. In major league baseball, the success rate for stealing attempts was 91.3%, up from 75% last year.
In fact, there was only one day in the entire 2022 campaign where at least 20 thefts were recorded with a success rate greater than 90%. The feat happened on July 26, when runners stole 22 bases in 24 attempts.
These lane feats came after Major League Baseball restricted pitchers to just two lane pitches per batter.
A third attempt must lead to an out, otherwise pitchers will be penalized with an illegal fake. In addition, the pads were widened, which reduced the distance between the bases by one and a half meters.
Associated Press baseball columnist Ronald Blum and Associated Press sportswriters Howard Fendrich (Washington), Kyle Hightower (Boston), Alanis Thames (Miami), Tim Booth (Seattle) and Beth Harris (Los Angeles) collaborated on this text.