Youthful Rays appear rattled in Game 1 rout

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Technically, the Rays went errorless in Friday’s 12-2 loss to the Red Sox. Which just further demonstrates how silly judging things based on errors can be.

After three innings without allowing a hit, Matt Moore gave up a Dustin Pedroia single to start the fourth with the Rays up 2-0. David Ortiz followed with a long drive to the warning track in right. Wil Myers had the ball lined up, only to let it drop at the last minute. He thought someone called him off, though center fielder Desmond Jennings did no such thing. The incident happened in front of the Red Sox bullpen, but if a reliever was trying to throw Myers off, it wasn’t captured on camera. Maybe a fan called for the ball, though with all the noise, it’s hard to see how that would have gotten through. Myers, himself, didn’t seem to have any idea who called him off. Perhaps we’ll find out after the game (And we did, Myers said he wasn’t called off, just that he saw Jennings out of the corner of his eye and gave up on the ball).

The ball ended up bouncing over the fence for a double. And the floodgates were opened. With the score tied 2-2, Stephen Drew hit a little grounder to James Loney’s right that the first baseman handled. Moore was just a smidgen late getting over to cover, then compounded his mistake by realizing too late that Jonny Gomes was trying to score from second. That made it 3-2. Jacoby Ellsbury later reached on a strikeout/passed ball. The inning ended at 5-2.

The follies kept coming in the fifth. Mike Napoli should have been thrown out easily trying for second on his shot off the Green Monster, but Sean Rodriguez’s throw was poor and he was called safe (though he appeared to be out anyway). An intentional walk followed, then came another double, again poorly played by Rodriguez. That resulted in Moore’s exit. After the second out of the inning, Will Middlebrooks was intentionally walked. Ellsbury then hit a shot back up the middle that ricocheted off Wesley Wright’s glove and past Yunel Escobar at shortstop. 8-2.

Four more runs followed in the eighth.

Myers, the AL Rookie of the Year favorite, heard it all game after his miscue and finished 0-for-4.

Moore, a 17-game winner in the regular season, ended up allowing eight runs — seven earned — in 4 1/3 innings. Maybe only three of those runs were truly earned, but the fourth-inning mental error loomed large.

The Rays will probably put Moore in the pen for the rest of the series now, though he likely won’t be available until Game 4. Because of the two off days, Game 2 starter David Price can come back and pitch if there’s a Game 5.

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%.