Tuesday's Game Pace Set a Record Of Sorts
When Rockies pinch hitter Charlie Blackmon grounded out to end the Dodgers’ 5-2 win over the Rockies at 9:35 p.m. local time last night, it seemed like just a relatively routine end to a relatively routine slate of Major League Baseball games.
And in many ways it was. The season is now in full swing, and April 4th’s 14 games had the usual share of blowouts and close games. There were high-scoring games. The Rays rallied to beat the Nationals, 12-6, and there were dominating pitching performances, like Sandy Alcantara’s complete-game shutout of the Twins in Miami’s 1-0 win.
But there was something that largely went unnoticed: all 14 games took fewer than three hours to play.
The longest game of the day was the first one. The D-backs-Padres game took 2:55 to play. The Twins-Marlins game finished in 1:57 for the fastest game of the day.
Now you may read that and see it as a meaningless bit of trivia. And if this was 1925, 1945, 1965 or 1985, I'd agree with you. There would have been nothing remarkable about that day.
But in the 21st century, and especially in the past decade, a day without a 3-plus-hour MLB game is something that almost never happened until the arrival of the pitch clock this year.
There has not been a day of any MLB regular season without a 3-hour game since Aug. 27, 2020, when all eight games took less than three hours. On July 23, 2020 both games of a two-game MLB schedule finished in less than three hours. Those games, early in the pandemic without fans in the stands, are the only two days with any MLB games on the schedule to not have a 3-hour-plus game since March 30, 2014, when the lone game on the day finished in 2:49.
If you are looking for the last time there were 10 or more games on the schedule without a 3-plus-hour game, you have to go back to May 15, 2007.
Once you get back to the early years of the 21st century, such days became more common. In 2005, there were six days with five or more games that didn't see a 3-hour game, including five days with full 15-game slates. In 2004, there were two days of five or more MLB games and no games over three hours. In 2003, there were five days that met that criteria.
But in the 4,050 days of MLB regular season games since 2000, yesterday was only the 45th time there wasn’t a 3-hour MLB game, and only the 23rd time with five or more games on the schedule.
In comparison, there have been 1,246 days over those 4,050 days where there was a 4-hour or longer game. There were 190 days with a 5-hour game. There were 25 days with a 6-hour game.
With games now averaging 2:37 per nine-inning game, down from last year’s 3:03, it probably won’t be the last time it happens this year.
If you are crazy like me, here's the complete list of days since 2000 with five or more MLB games on the schedule and no games that took three hours or longer to play.
2000-05-15 five games
2002-08-20 10 games
2003-05-06 six games
2003-05-18 15 games
2003-05-24 15 games
2003-07-07 nine games
2003-09-19 13 games
2004-04-26 six games
2004-08-30 seven games
2005-04-17 15 games
2005-05-05 nine games
2005-05-19 seven games
2005-05-23 eight games
2005-06-18 15 games
2005-08-07 15 games
2006-05-08 seven games
2007-05-15 10 games
2008-07-24 seven games
2009-05-29 five games
2010-09-09 six games
2011-04-4 six games
2011-06-23 five games
2020-08-27 eight games
2023-04-04 14 games