World Series games were way shorter this year

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The USA Today reports that, on average, World Series games were 25 minutes shorter than last year’s games between the Phillies and the Yankees.

The story credits MLB’s efforts at speeding the game along, but does anyone really believe that was the biggest difference? Seems to me that the biggest difference was (a) good pitching and way fewer mid-inning calls to the pen; and (b) teams that, unlike the Yankees, don’t have catchers who make dozens of mound visits a game and hitters who don’t call time when the pitcher takes a fraction of a second longer than usual to start his delivery.  Indeed, in Game 5 we saw two or three instances of guys calling time late, and it was positively jarring because no one had been doing that.

I guess (b) could be chalked up to baseball’s focus on the pace-of-games, but I think it had way more to do with the teams involved than the policies. If New York makes the series again next year I have full faith that game times will creep back up.

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.

The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.

After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.