(Chicago) Marcus Stroman is getting used to the new stopwatch that is now found in all Major League Baseball stadiums. And for the Chicago Cubs right-handed pitcher, that’s no small feat.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “It’s a big adjustment. »
Stroman was the first gunner to be flagged for taking too long to throw to home plate, in the third inning of the game the Cubs won 4-0 against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday afternoon at the Wrigley. Field.
It was the first of 14 violations in 15 games over a day when games averaged 2 hours 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, the number of goal-stealing attempts per game more than doubled from the previous inaugural day, an indication that efforts to boost runs around the trails could be working.
The Runners had 21 thefts from 23 attempts on Thursday, compared to five from nine tries in seven games on the first day of the 2022 season.
Five transgressions were committed by batters, eight by pitchers and one by a catcher on an inaugural day when all clubs started their season on the same date, a first since 1968.
Stroman looked long in the direction of rookie Brice Turang, who took his spread from second base with Christian Yelich on the batter and there were no outs.
The moment Stroman refocused his attention on Yelich, plate umpire Ron Kulpa called the violation of the new rule.
Announcing her decision, Kulpa pointed to her wrist. The automatic ball brought the count to two balls and two strikes.
Stroman did not protest.
“You have to watch the stopwatch. You try to worry about your throw. You try to pay attention to runners on the trails. You try to make sure you have a good grip on the ball. There’s so much going on right now,” Stroman noted.
“So it definitely adds another element to the game that is challenging, in all honesty. There’s no doubt that it’s not easy being a pitcher there and feeling rushed, on some occasions,” he added.
Major League Baseball has instituted the use of a stopwatch to speed up the pace of games. Players have 30 seconds to restart play between two batters. Between pitches, pitchers have 15 seconds when there are no runners on the trails, and 20 seconds if there are. Batters must be seated in the box and show they are ready to face the pitcher with at least eight seconds on the clock.
If a pitcher fails to take a shot in time, the penalty is an automatic ball. If the batter is not ready within the required time, the penalty is an automatic strike.
Boston Red Sox star hitter Rafael Devers became the first batter to be called a third strike for a rule violation.
Devers was looking down at the ground and busy cleaning dirt from his cleats in the eighth inning when Lance Barksdale signaled a transgression as the Red Sox hitter had two strikes against him.
“There are no excuses,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora commented. “They know the rules. »
J.D. Davis of the San Francisco Giants was the first batter at fault in the ninth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium.
Meanwhile in Washington, Atlanta Braves reliever Collin McHugh spread his arms to either side of his body after being penalized by official Dan Bellino in game eight of the Nationals.
That penalty left hitter Jeimer Candelario with a favorable one-ball count and no strikes. He then let three more throws pass out of the strike zone for what was, in effect, a free pass of just three balls.
“I didn’t even realize it happened, honestly,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. ” It will happen. »
Inaugural day went generally well, but there were a few issues in Miami.
In the fifth inning, New York Mets starting ace Max Scherzer stared at Marlins hitter Bryan De La Cruz until the clock went down to zero.
De La Cruz started shouting “Bullet!” Ball ! Ball ! — in hopes of being credited with an automatic ball. However, plate official Larry Vanover believed the batter was requesting a timeout.
Scherzer got away with it without being penalized with an automatic ball and later forced De La Cruz to hit a low fly.
In the next inning, Vanover frustrated Mets star player Jeff McNeil with a transgression he decided to call this time around.
McNeil was waiting for teammate Pete Alonso to return to first base after a foul ball when Vanover gave him an automatic grab. The decision led to an altercation with McNeil and Mets manager Buck Showalter, who appeared irritated that the clock had started before Alonso was back at first base.
For McNeil, it ultimately didn’t change much; a few pitches later, he hit a ground ball that crossed the infield for a good-for-one single.
“I love the rhythm,” Scherzer analyzed. “I don’t like the clock. My opinion on this is firm. I think the official should be free to turn off the clock. »
In a 10-9 win over the Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles stole five bases. Across major league baseball, the attempted larceny success rate was 91.3%, up from 75% last year.
In fact, there was only one day in the entire 2022 campaign where at least 20 thefts were recorded with a success rate over 90%. The feat took place on July 26 when the runners stole 22 bases in 24 attempts.
These feats around the trails came after Major League Baseball restricted pitchers to only two pitches to the trails per batter.
A third attempt must lead to an out, otherwise the pitchers will be penalized with an illegal fake. Also, the cushions were widened, which reduced the distance between the bases by four and a half feet.