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.
Perhaps there are a few who still miss the slope of Tal’s Hill rising from center field, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He lassoed a 403-foot fly ball from Todd Frazier in the seventh inning of Game 6, reaching nearly to the top of the wall to prevent the Yankees from gaining on the Astros’ 3-0 lead.
According to Statcast, a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103.6 MPH and a launch angle of 29 degrees lands for a home run 72% of the time. That wasn’t going to fly with the Astros, who were facing runners on first and second with one out and saw Justin Verlander‘s pitch count rapidly approaching 100.
It wasn’t long before the Yankees tried for another home run, however, and this one sailed far above the heads of all of the Astros’ outfielders. Aaron Judge lofted a 425-foot shot to left field in the eighth inning, destroying a first-pitch fastball from Brad Peacock and finally getting New York on the board.
The Yankees currently trail the Astros 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.