Clay Buchholz showing diminished velocity, but has held Cardinals scoreless through two innings

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There was some concern about Clay Buchholz going into his start in Game 4 of the World Series due to tightness in his right shoulder, the same one that knocked him out of commission for three months during the regular season. Nevertheless, Red Sox manager John Farrell gave his right-hander the ball.

Through two innings, Buchholz looks like he’s operating well below 100 percent. Per Brooks Baseball, his fastball averaged 91-95 MPH during the regular season, but has struggled to touch 89 MPH against the Cardinals in Game 4. To put in perspective how much worse his fastball is, he threw an 88 MPH change-up during the first at-bat against Matt Carpenter in the first inning. Buchholz, though, has made pitches when he has needed to, escaping a two-on, one-out situation in the bottom of the second inning.

Farrell hasn’t had anyone warm up in the bullpen in case Buchholz gets in trouble. He is at 30 pitches and just hit for himself in the top of the third inning, striking out.

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%.