For a century the average baseball game has averaged nine runs. When the sport gets fewer than eight runs a game, rules change. Fewer than seven is almost unheard of and a calamity. Those 15 twilight games so far this October have averaged 6.6 runs. So far in both LCS series, the games that decide the pennants, twilight games have averaged 2.75 runs. You read right.
Thank goodness the World Series comes next week. At least all games will be at night so a semblance of a valid champ can emerge. Games may get chilly, and some end after the kids’ bedtimes. But at least it’s baseball.
Oh, sorry. Maybe they’ll all be played at night. If the Dodgers come from what was a three-games-to-one deficit to reach the Series, Games 3-4-5 will all be in twilight. If the Dodgers and Oakland A’s had met in the Series, every game might have started at exactly the worst possible time: prime time on the East Coast, for the best TV audiences, but three hours earlier, at twilight, in the West.
Good pitching always stops blind hitting.
On Tuesday, in twilight, the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 1-0. That was the seventh shutout already in this postseason. Nine times a team has been held to one run. Maybe that’s not actually so thrilling. Every time you turn on a game, it’s 0-0 in the fifth inning and a pitcher is working on a no-hitter, unless both pitchers are working on no-hitters.
The last thing baseball needs in October is a run drought coupled with the incredibly slow pace of October games: 3:23, 25 minutes longer than the lugubrious regular season.
Many things can throw hitters into slumps. Leading causes include elite pitchers, off days that erode batters’ timing and playing when you can’t see the ball well as it moves in and out of shadows or appears to be coming out of a sun-bleached background.
In October, all of these factors coincide. With so many off days — Boston played just eight games in the first 16 days of the month — only the best pitchers are used. No fifth starter and few fourth starters ever find the mound. Mop-up men shouldn’t even bother coming to the ballpark.
Playing roughly half of all games in twilight conditions is just the final straw to demoralize hitters. If you feel like you face a Kershaw, Verlander or Wainwright every day while squinting at anyone who happens to be on the hill, the cumulative effect has a carryover impact on future games: the Big Slump.