There are a lot of elements of this season that seem kind of silly when you first hear them. A designated hitter in the National League. A runner placed on second in extra innings. Doubleheader games being shortened to seven games.
It’s extremely easy to rage about the ideas when you first hear them, but as the Giants have gone through this strange year, they’ve kind of found themselves in favor of mixing it up. Perhaps change won’t be so bad.
Manager Gabe Kapler and starter Kevin Gausman both said they’re just fine with the seven-inning games in doubleheaders. How do you know they’re not lying just to be nice to MLB? Well, the Giants got swept, and didn’t even score a run against the Dodgers in the 14 innings.
But Gausman still liked the concept and said he hopes it becomes permanent.
“A doubleheader in the big leagues of two nine-inning games, with the chance of going into extra innings in any of them, it’s tough,” he said. “Hopefully your starters can pitch well enough that you can give your bullpen a break. I really hope that at the end of the season, Major League Baseball thinks about doing it. I just think it’s more exciting. It adds a different element to it. I think it just speeds up the whole process of having two games in one day.”
The doubleheader wasn’t that exciting on the field, although there seemed to be some more fun off of it, at least until manager Gabe Kapler addressed the media after the second loss. The second game was originally supposed to start at 5 p.m., but then was moved up to 4:05 when the first game ended quickly. As that time approached, it was pushed back to 4:40, in part because the Dodgers had surprised the Giants by announcing left-handed reliever Caleb Ferguson as their starter. In the morning, they had put Game 2 starter Walker Buehler on the IL with a blister.
Earlier this season, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the Giants were taking part in “gamesmanship” by announcing their starters and lineups late. Kapler has since changed that method, and he said he didn’t think there was any payback on Thursday.
“It did take a few minutes extra (to hear about Ferguson). It wasn’t egregious in any way, but it took a little longer and we wanted some time to prepare our guys, so we asked to just push the game back and everybody was okay with that,” Kapler said.
Kapler said he was fine with the way it all went down, although Giants hitters certainly didn’t handle it well once the game started. They had just two hits off seven Dodgers relievers, but that wasn’t because of the delay. In the first game, they had four hits off Clayton Kershaw.
The doubleheader shutouts were the first by Giants hitters since 1943, so in many ways this was reminiscent of the first experience with the extra-innings rule. The Giants got blown out in the 10th inning by the Padres earlier this year and Kapler made a mistake with a pitching change that led him to apologize. But since then, the Giants have won both of their extra-inning games.
That rule is one some team officials believe will stick long-term, because it’s been successful in cutting down game times in the minors. The DH will certainly be here, if not next year than the year after when there’s a new CBA, and the Giants probably won’t complain. Their lineup has been pretty productive this year with some poor defenders filling in.
The seven-inning doubleheaders might prove to have some staying power, too, although the Giants learned a valuable lesson. They fell behind in both games and ran out of chances to come back.
“I think it’s fine. I feel like our job is to adapt to the rules,” Kapler said. “I think there are some pluses and minuses to all the new rules, but the best thing that we can do is accept that they’re there and try to be as good as we can within the construct of those rules.”
Giants get swept in shortened doubleheader, but don’t hate the concept originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area