Reds and Tigers show MLB seven-inning doubleheader may not be here to stay – but will be cool while it lasts
In terms of drama, the doubleheader Sunday between the Reds and Tigers was closer to a few episodes of “The Sopranos” than a back-to-back marathon of “The Godfather” and “The Godfather, Part II.”
On “The Sopranos” there was always a feeling that the end of the program was coming soon, so something would happen soon.
For example, in the two games the Tigers and Reds played, it was the first-ever MLB doubleheader in which the two games were scheduled for seven innings.
Reds midfielder Nick Senzel told Sporting News “certainly” that there was more urgency for the two games of the doubleheader, which swept Cincinnati.
“In those seven turns, everyone is really attached to any pitch,” he said. “Because you knew two turns, so much happens. I think the intensity is definitely there in both seven innings games.
“We liked the double inning with seven innings.”
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There will be a lot about how the 2020 MLB season is contested that will have a chance to stay in the game. The most obvious is the universally designated hitter, which many think will become the norm in the coming seasons. It is not clear whether the idea of starting a runner on second base for each team when a game reaches extra innings will persist, but the impact will be studied.
Baseball should trample its entire history to make seven innings the norm, and history is too important to the sport. Also, there is the issue of diminishing the role of relief pitchers, and the MLB Players Association generally do not appreciate anything that would have a detrimental effect on a class of players. In situations where doubleheaders became necessary due to procrastination last season, owners learned to appreciate the day / night concept because it enabled a second distinctive gate.
We probably won’t see the seven-inning game become a thing in future MLB seasons. Although we would love it.
So we can only appreciate how cool it is now.
Each development in those two games had extraordinary gravity due to the shortened time frame. The ending looms much clearer when two turns are cut the length of the game.
It also changed the nature of the game. The Reds have had a phenomenal starting pitching in the first two weeks of the season, but their bullpen has often been catastrophic.
This was the case in the first game, where Anthony DeSclafani retired the Tigers for five innings and gave up only three basehits, but was scored as it was his first game off the injured list. Lucas Sims gave up three runs, none of which earned, and the Reds had to score a game-winning run in the top of the seventh.
In the nightcap, starter Trevor Bauer threw a full game shutout, then told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “I had to lobby for the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh … no one took me out.” It will be different from most complete games in baseball history, except for those cut short by the weather. But it counts in that category on its Baseball Reference page.
The seven-inning doubleheader is an idea taken from the minor leagues, so both Reds-pitcher Tyler Mahle and manager David Bell referred to their experience with the previous seasons’ format.
“It was fun. It was cool to be part of what was the first in history,” Bell told SN. “Not much is changing. We kept reminding ourselves in the dugout, the first inning was like the third inning and the fifth inning was like a typical seventh inning, it really shortens the time, or path, from your starter to the back of your bullpen.
“That’s one thing, you can get through a game quite easily with your best. My experience with it in the minor leagues, and it may have happened, a lot of good matches – I think the starters are interested in knowing that you only have seven turns to get a complete game, and I remembered it just me a lot of gems that are thrown in the minor leagues. And that happened again yesterday with Trevor. ‘