Pirates lead the Cardinals 5-1 after fifth, Lance Lynn already knocked out of the game

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NLDS Game 2 between the Pirates and the Cardinals is, as I write this, in the top of the fifth inning. And the story today is very different than it was yesterday.

Pittsburgh leads 5-1 at the moment, and Pirates fans can thank Gerrit Cole for much of that margin.  Cole is dealing, having sailed through the first four innings, allowing one hit and striking out three while tossing only 51 pitches. Cole plated the game’s first run with an RBI single in the second. The Pirates have added runs via a two-run homer from Pedro Alvarez in the third and a ground rule double from Marlon Byrd, which sent Justin Morneau home after a double of his own.

As the fifth inning wears on, Lance Lynn has just been pulled from the game by Mike Matheny, his last act issuing a walk to Alvarez. Two on, one out and the Pirates are threatening to score again and to even up the NLDS before it heads back to Pittsburgh.

UPDATE: Make that 5-0, as Russell Martin just singled in Byrd.

UPDATE 2: Make it 5-1 after five, as Yadier Molina hit a homer off Cole. Then Cole retired the side 1-2-3. We go on to the sixth.

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%.