J.P. Arencibia played the hero, hitting a three-run homer off Jairo Asencio in the top of the 16th inning to lead the Blue Jays past the Indians, 7-4, in the longest Opening Day game on record.
The game should have ended in nine, but Chris Perez blew a three-run lead for Cleveland after an outstanding performance by Justin Masterson (8 IP, 1 R, 10 K).
After that followed some rather rare events. The Jays went to five infielders with the bases loaded and one out in the 12th and induced a double-play ball from Michael Brantley to send the game to the 13th. That play led to Omar Vizquel’s second ever appearance in the outfield, though he was playing between second base at the time. Vizquel then moved to first base the next inning, making just his second career appearance at that position.
The 15th inning saw the benches clear after Luis Perez buzzed Shin-Soo Choo, who was hit in the back 12 innings prior. Choo took several steps toward the mound, causing the benches and bullpens to empty. Order was quickly restored, though, and there were no ejections.
Arencibia helped ended it the next inning, delivering the homer after going 0-for-6 with three strikeouts previously. Jose Bautista was the Jays’ other offensive star, going 3-for-4 with a homer and two walks. Perez got the win after throwing four hitless innings of relief. Jairo Asencio took the loss for Cleveland in his third inning of work.
According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.
The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.
Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.
It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.
I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.
The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.
Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”
Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.