MLB, Union Agree to Play 7 Inning Doubleheaders
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed Thursday to stage seven-inning doubleheaders starting Saturday, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN's Jeff Passan.
With a number of doubleheaders expected to take place because of rescheduled games due to current and potential coronavirus outbreaks as well as weather-related postponements, shortening doubleheaders to seven innings was a compromise that came together quickly, sources said.
However, there are no doubleheaders currently scheduled in the majors after Saturday's Toronto Blue Jays-Philadelphia Phillies twin bill was postponed because two Phillies staffers tested positive for COVID-19.
While the Cleveland Indians swept the Chicago White Sox in the first doubleheader of the season on Tuesday, union head Tony Clark called deputy commissioner Dan Halem and said players might want to consider shortened twin bills this year. The players' association is surveying members and might propose either two seven-inning games for a doubleheader, or nine innings for the opener and seven for the nightcap.
A source confirmed to ESPN that Major League Baseball is checking opinions among owners and general managers, and league staff hopes for a decision by Saturday to make a change or leave the rules the way they are. Philadelphia and Toronto are scheduled for a doubleheader on Saturday as the Phillies resume play following a five-day layoff. The time off was caused by waiting to make sure no players or staff were infected during games against the Miami Marlins last weekend.
Official Baseball Rules allow minor leagues to adopt a rule providing one or both games of a doubleheader be seven innings. NCAA rules allow the options of two nine-inning games, a seven and a nine or two sevens.
MLB already has adopted one shortening rule for 2020: Each half of each extra inning starts with a runner on second base.
There were five extra-inning games during the first six days of the season. Four ended in 10 innings and one in 11.