The decision comes after more than a dozen games were postponed due to the Miami Marlins experiencing a coronavirus outbreak. MLB suspended Miami’s season through this Sunday and the Phillies have had all of their games through Friday halted as well.
The Phillies announced Thursday that two staff members tested positive after undergoing testing Wednesday. On Friday, the club announced no new positive cases after another round of testing Thursday, adding that activity at Citizens Bank Park will remain suspended until further notice.
Miami’s outbreak also led to schedule alterations for the Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. Before MLB paused Miami’s season, the Nationals voted almost unanimously to not travel to face the Marlins for their series this weekend.
The Marlins have had 21 members of the organization, including 18 players test positive for the coronavirus. The club has not left Philadelphia since arriving for last weekend’s series but will reportedly bus the infected players and staff back to South Florida.
Two St. Louis Cardinals players also tested positive for the coronavirus, leading to a postponement of Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals said in a statement that they are “currently conducting rapid testing of the entire traveling party, [have] implemented contact tracing, and will continue to self-isolate.”
As postponements mount, the need for doubleheaders and the ability to complete them expeditiously became more paramount to MLB. Friday’s announcement makes the completion of a 60-game season for all 30 teams more feasible.
In the statement, the league and union noted the amendment of the rule, which was unanimously endorsed by MLB’s Competition Committee and Playing Rules Committee.
“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in Official Baseball Rule 7.01(a) (“Regulation Games”), a regulation game in both games of a doubleheader shall consist of seven innings, unless extended because of a tie score. In this respect, the 'Extra Innings’ rule contained in Section 5.1.2 of the 2020 Operations Manual shall apply to each half-inning following the completion of the seventh inning.
“Please note that OBR 7.01(c) shall still apply, such that if a game is called, it is a regulation game (1) if five innings have been completed; (2) if the home team has scored more runs in four or four and a fraction half-innings than the visiting team has scored in five completed half-innings; or (3) if the home team scores one or more runs in its half of the fifth inning to tie the score.”
Since 1900, the only MLB doubleheader to feature two games of seven innings or less occurred on Sept. 19, 1912, between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, with Game 1 lasting five innings and Game 2 lasting six, per MLB.com.
If the league can’t control the coronavirus outbreaks, Commissioner Rob Manfred has threatened to shut down the season, with some players believing it could happen as soon as Monday, per a report by ESPN.
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