MLB’s first use of its new extra-inning rules ended in thrilling fashion on Friday with a walk-off grand slam from Oakland Athletics slugger Matt Olson.
The rule, which places a runner on second base at the start of each inning, popped up again on Saturday. That ending wasn’t as dramatic, and it left a sour taste in the mouth of one of the losing team’s pitchers.
Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger is not a fan of the extra-inning runner
With the speedy Brett Phillips starting the 10th inning on second, Royals pinch-hitter Erick Mejia moved the runner to third with a sacrifice bunt. Phillips then scored on a Maikel Franco sacrifice fly to give the Royals the lead. The Indians’ attempt to strike back in the bottom of the inning ended with three straight strikeouts.
Mike Clevinger, who started for Cleveland and allowed two earned runs in seven innings, took to Twitter after the game to criticize the rule.
This new extra inning rule is the whackest s*** I’ve ever seen, do you have any idea how hard it is to get a runner to second off the back end of a bullpen?!!! #ThisIsntTravelBall #MakeThemEarnIt @MLB— ❂ Mike 𝕊𝕌ℕ𝕊ℍ𝕀ℕ𝔼 Clevinger ❂ (@Mike_Anthony13) July 26, 2020
Clevinger followed that up by sarcastically calling sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies more fun than the normal game while responding to former teammate Trevor Bauer.
That’s correct Trevor I just don’t believe taking away from either teams bullpen is the route to go. But you’re right BUNTING and SAC FLIES, that’ll be more fun. Seems more your speed. https://t.co/vIlrZcHufl— ❂ Mike 𝕊𝕌ℕ𝕊ℍ𝕀ℕ𝔼 Clevinger ❂ (@Mike_Anthony13) July 26, 2020
Clevinger also discussed the rule with reporters after the game, lamenting that Cleveland reliever James Karinchak was stuck with a loss despite not allowing the winning run to reach base:
"This isn’t travel ball. You know how hard it is to get a runner on second base off the back end of any bullpen, how incredibly hard that is? And now all of a sudden you just get a guy on second base with a guy like Karinchak on the mound. I’m not happy about it."
It’s a good bet that Clevinger isn’t alone among MLB players, particularly pitchers, in hating the rule. The change was one of many enacted by MLB for the shortened 2020 season, so it’s not a permanent switch and could be gone by next season. However, MLB’s next CBA negotiations are coming up, and commissioner Rob Manfred could push for cementing the extra runner in the rulebooks as a way to shorten extra-inning games.
You can bet Clevinger will have some thoughts when that happens.
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