Michael Pineda ejected in second inning for pine tar on neck, facing a 10-game suspension

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Yankees starter Michael Pineda was very clearly using pine tar to get a better grip on his pitches during an April 10 start against the rival Red Sox.

He tried it again in his start Wednesday night at a blustery Fenway Park and got caught red-handed.

Umpire Gerry Davis ejected Pineda in the bottom of the second inning after closely examining — even touching his finger to — a large brown streak on the big right-hander’s neck. Here’s an image of that odd scene from beat reporter Jason Mastrodonato of the Springfield Republican and MassLive.com:

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David Phelps took over for Pineda, who now faces a 10-game suspension. Including his results from Wednesday night, the 25-year-old owns a 1.83 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 19 2/3 innings this season.

We’ve discussed on this blog before how common it is for pitchers to use pine tar or sunscreen or some sort of sticky substance to help with grip on cold days. But most do it with a level of secrecy.

Former major leaguer Gabe Kapler put it nicely in this tweet Wednesday night …

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%.