Torii Hunter hits a three-run walkoff homer to steal a win from the A’s

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The A’s had smacked the Tigers around for three days and then sprung out to a 6-1 lead after five innings in their series wrapup against the Tigers today. All this with Miguel Cabrera sidelined after leaving the game with an abdominal injury. Max Scherzer looked destined for only his second loss of the year and the A’s were poised for a series sweep.

But baseball has no clock and the Tigers roared back.

Prince Fielder hit a solo homer and Ramon Santiago singled in Don Kelly in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-3.  That’s how it’d stay until the ninth inning when the A’s brought in Grant Balfour to close things out. Except he didn’t. He let this happen:

  • An Austin Jackson walk;
  • A couple of outs in the form of Andy Dirks and Alex Avila;
  • A Prince Fielder Walk;
  • A Victor Martinez single which scored Jackson to make it 6-4; and then
  • A three-run, walkoff homer by Torii Hunter.

And the crowd went wild, of course.

At some point the Tigers starters are going to have to return to their usual dominant form, as Scherzer was roughed up today, Fister last night, Verlander on Tuesday and Anibal Sanchez on Monday. But this is a team with an offense that can pick up some bad pitching if it has to. Even if the MVP is on the bench nursing his wounds.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.