Red Sox take late 1-0 lead in Game 3 of ALCS

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The Red Sox have finally broken through in Game 3 of the ALCS against Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

Boston was held without a hit for 4 2/3 innings and scoreless for 6 1/3 innings, but first baseman Mike Napoli slugged a one-out solo homer to left in the top of the seventh to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey has out-dueled Verlander so far, boasting eight strikeouts and no walks over six scoreless innings. Lackey has surrendered just three hits. He’s at 88 pitches as the bottom of the seventh inning gets underway at a cold and gray — but for the time being rainless — Comerica Park.

The best-of-seven American League Championship Series is currently tied 1-1.

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%.