MLB teams to play all 29 opponents under 2023 balanced sked

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NEW YORK — Every major league team will play each other in the same season for the first time next year as the sport switches to its first balanced schedule since 2000.

As a result of the format switch agreed to in the March lockout settlement, high-profile games between division rivals such as Yankees-Red Sox, Dodgers-Giants and Cubs-Cardinals will be reduced from 19. Intradivision games will drop from 47% to 32%.

A team will host all of the other 29 clubs at least once every two seasons.

“I think it’s great for the fans,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m so tired of playing the same people.”

Major League Baseball said Wednesday it will open the 2023 season on March 30 and again will try to have every team start on the same day, which last occurred in 1968.

A team will play 13 games against each division rival for a total of 52 and six or seven against each other club in its league for a total of 64. The remaining 46 games are against interleague opponents: a home and road two-game series against a so-called natural rival and a single three-game series against each of the 14 other clubs in the opposite league.

“This new format creates more common opponents, both in the division and among your league opponents, so that typically when you’re competing for the wild card, there’s a much higher percentage of common opponents across divisions,” said Chris Marinak, MLB’s chief operations and strategy officer. “And we think that equity is good for the competition on the field.

“On the marketing side, we think that the new schedule gives our fans more opponents at home, so they get to see a broader array of clubs in their ballpark,” Marinak said. “And probably more importantly, it gives us a chance for our star players to get exposure more nationally and be seen in more places throughout the season.”

The American League used a balanced schedule from 1977-2000 and the National League from 1993-2000, with interleague play starting in 1997 and limited to 15-18 games per season for each team. Then-Commissioner Bud Selig had pushed for a return to an unbalanced schedule.

AL openers have Baltimore at Boston, the Chicago White Sox at Houston, Minnesota at Kansas City, the Los Angeles Angels at Oakland, Cleveland at Seattle and Detroit at Tampa Bay.

NL openers are Milwaukee at the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Arizona at the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets at Miami, Colorado at San Diego and Atlanta at Washington.

Interleague openers have San Francisco at the New York Yankees, Toronto at St. Louis and Philadelphia at Texas.

Other home openers are the Giants at the White Sox and the Mets at Milwaukee on April 3; San Diego at Atlanta, the Dodgers at Arizona, the Yankees at Baltimore, Boston at Detroit, Houston at Minnesota, Miami at the Mets and Cincinnati at Philadelphia on April 6, and Seattle at Cleveland, Washington at Colorado, Toronto at the Angels, the White Sox at Pittsburgh and Kansas City at San Francisco on April 7.

Toronto opens with 10 road games before hosting Detroit on April 11, a request made by the Blue Jays because of construction at Rogers Centre.

The schedule usually is updated with game times during the winter.

Next year’s start is the earliest since 2019. The season will revert to 186 days from the 182 it was shortened to this year due to the lockout.

Natural interleague rivals include Mets-Yankees, Cubs-White Sox, Dodgers-Angels, Giants-Athletics, Reds-Indians, Marlins-Rays, Orioles-Nationals, Royals-Cardinals and Brewers-Twins.

Among the teams with no geographic interleague rivals, MLB paired Red Sox-Braves, Pirates-Tigers, Phillies-Blue Jays, Rangers-Diamondbacks, Astros-Rockies and Padres-Mariners.

Travel is roughly the same as the prior format, which had teams play 76 games against division foes, 66 against other clubs in the league (seven vs. six teams and six against four teams) and 20 interleague.

“The bulk of what dictates your travel is the number of trips you take, and this doesn’t change the number of trips,” said Chuck Torres, MLB’s senior director of scheduling and broadcasting.

Other than within its own division, a team can host or visit a maximum of three teams from another division.

To combat exhaustion, each team was scheduled for seven off days among its last 67 days, three among its last 32 and one in its last 10.

MLB tried to have all 30 clubs play on the same opening day for four of the past five seasons.

Pittsburgh at Detroit and Washington at Cincinnati were rained out in 2018. For 2019, Seattle and Oakland started ahead of other teams with a two-game series in Tokyo.

In 2020, the season’s start was delayed to July 23 because of the pandemic, and the only game on opening night had the Yankees at Washington. In 2021, the Mets’ game at Washington and Baltimore’s game at Boston were postponed.

This year’s start was delayed from March 31 to April 7 because of the 99-day lockout that ended on March 10, and only seven games were scheduled for opening day.

Every team is scheduled to play on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, which falls on a Saturday.

The All-Star Game will be at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park on July 11, eight days earlier than this year’s game at Dodger Stadium. Then called Safeco Field, the ballpark hosted the 2001 All-Star Game.

No games are scheduled on the two days after the All-Star Game, creating a four-day break and leaving the second half to start July 14. The regular season ends Oct. 1.

There are two scheduled day-night doubleheaders: the Padres at Philadelphia on July 16 and the Dodgers at Colorado on Sept. 26. This year’s original schedule had one doubleheader but 30 twinbills were added in the revisions caused the lockout.

The Cubs and Cardinals play a two-game series at London’s Olympic Stadium in June 24-25, and the Phillies and Nationals play in the Little League Classic at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 20.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).