Thursday’s MLB: Doubleheaders will have 7-inning games in latest radical rule change

Detroit News wire services

New York — Shortened season, shorter games.

Big league doubleheaders will now become a pair of seven-inning games, baseball's latest radical rule change during a season reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

Major League Baseball and the players' union reached agreement Thursday on the new twinbills, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana, right, celebrates with Francisco Lindor after Santana hit a two-run home run in the first inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

ESPN first reported the doubleheader deal.

Baseball is filled with examples going back more than 100 years of major league games being shortened on the fly because of weather, darkness or a team's travel schedule. But this is believed to be the first mandate across the sport to play games shorter than nine innings.

MLB had already added designated hitters to National League games this year and added an automatic runner at second base to start all half-innings in extras. The free runner will take his spot in doubleheader games that are tied after the seventh.

The Cleveland Indians swept the Chicago White Sox earlier this week in the first doubleheader of the season. The new rule goes into effect Saturday for the rest of the season — the Toronto Blue Jays had been scheduled to play a twinbill in Philadelphia that day, but it was scrapped after two Phillies staffers tested positive for the virus.

There are no doubleheaders currently scheduled in the majors, although the Chicago Cubs and the Reds will try to figure out a way to make up Thursday night's rainout in Cincinnati.

With a compressed 60-game schedule that includes few days off, there's a good chance some weather-created doubleheaders will be necessary. The shortened games will be a way for clubs to conserve their pitching resources — that was the thinking behind the decision for extra-inning rule.

Trout on paternity list

Angels center fielder Mike Trout was placed on the paternity list Thursday and is not in the lineup for that night's series finale against the Mariners in Angel Stadium.

Trout’s wife, Jessica, had a due date of Monday to deliver the couple’s first child, a boy, but the team did not announce whether she had gone into labor. When Trout spoke before the team’s season opener last week, he wasn’t sure how long he would be away from the team.

“It’s all in God’s hands,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about what it’s gonna be like because I couldn’t tell you. I’m anxious, I’m nervous, I’m sure everything will go well, but I can’t tell you if I’m taking two days (or longer).”