Ordinarily, a baseball game consists of nine innings (in softball and high school baseball games there are typically seven innings; in Little League, six), each of which is divided into halves: the visiting team bats first, after which the home team takes its turn at bat. However, if the score remains tied at the end of the regulation number of complete innings, the rules provide that "play shall continue until (1) the visiting team has scored more total runs than the home team at the end of a completed inning; or (2) the home team scores the winning run in an uncompleted inning."
The rules of the game, including the batting order, availability of substitute players and pitchers, etc., remain intact in extra innings. Managers must display caution to avoid using all their substitute players, in case the game reaches extensive extra innings. The rules call for a forfeiture if a team is unable to field a full team of nine players.
In Major League Baseball, home teams won about 52% of extra-inning games from 1957 to 2007. During this same time period, home teams have won about 54% of all baseball games. So while the home team has some advantage in extra-inning games, this advantage is less noticeable than the initial home-field advantage. Home teams tend to have the greatest advantage in run-scoring during the first 3 innings.
For the visiting team to win, it must score as many runs as possible in the first (or "top") half of the inning and then prevent the home team from tying or taking the lead in the second (or "bottom") half. Because it bats in the bottom half of an inning, a home team wins the game by taking the lead at any point in the final inning. If the home team takes the lead in the final inning by virtue of a hit with one or more runners on base, the game will end when the first of those runners comes home and scores a run. No other subsequent runners will be allowed to come home and score, as the game will have already ended with the scoring of the first run. However, if the home team takes a lead in the final inning by virtue of a home run with one or more runners on base, each of those runners will be allowed to score and count in the final score of the game. Each extra inning simply repeats this scenario. A home run in such a situation is called a walk-off home run, and any win in this situation is known as a walk-off win.
Additionally, NPB games have a total time limit of three and a half hours during the regular season before being counted as a tie. In postseason play, the limit for number of innings is extended to 15, and the last game is completely replayed if drawn, leading to seven-game series that can go on for eight games. There are no limits on the number of innings in the eighth game of the Japan Series.
The KBO does not play extra innings in the first game of a double-header. Tie games are discarded when calculating winning percentages since 2002, except for 2008 when it was counted as a loss in the league's standings. Before 2002, they counted as half a win.
In the 11th inning, the manager selects anywhere in the batting order to start the inning, regardless of the last player put out. The batter immediately preceding this newly designated leadoff man becomes a runner on first base, and the next preceding batter is placed on second base. In subsequent innings, the batting order continues as normal, but the two players preceding the player scheduled to lead off the inning start on second and first.
Since 2009, a modified form of the rule has been used for the World Baseball Classic. Unlike the standard rule, the batting order may not start from a different place, and the first inning in which teams start with runners on first and second is the 13th. However, this rule has yet to be used because no game in either the 2009 or 2013 edition lasted more than 11 innings.
Other methods include the following:
- Putting runners on second and third (those who made the last two outs of the past inning) and an 0-2 count on the batter with no outs.
- Having bases loaded (runners being the last three outs of the past inning), with a 1-1 count on the batter and no outs.
- Sudden-death extra innings (the next team to score wins the game; this can result in a walk-off home run for the visiting team).
In international softball, a special extra innings rule starts immediately after regulation. Each team begins their half of the inning with a runner on second base (the last player to be put out). This increases the odds that teams will score and ensures a faster resolution. There is a drawback, though, in that the home team has a big advantage in going second. Should the visiting team fail to score, all the home team must do to win is, for example, get a successful bunt and sacrifice fly to score the winning run. This rule is also used in certain NCAA college conferences, usually applied after one or two extra innings where the "international tiebreaker" is not used.
MLB spring training
During spring training in Major League Baseball, whenever a game remains tied after ten innings, it is declared to end in a tie. This is done because teams often travel on a daily basis, and also to reduce chances for injuries because the games do not officially count in the standings.
There are nine innings in a professional baseball game.
The record for the most innings ever played in a single professional game is 33 which occurred in a 1981 minor-league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, Triple-A affiliates of the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, respectively. Interestingly, each team had a future Hall of Famer on its roster: Wade Boggs for Pawtucket and Cal Ripken, Jr. for Rochester.
Major League Baseball
The longest game by innings in Major League Baseball was a 1-1 tie in the National League between the Boston Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 26 innings, at Braves Field in Boston on May 1, 1920. It had become too dark to see the ball (fields did not have lights yet and the sun was setting), and the game was considered a draw. Played rapidly by modern standards, those 26 innings were completed in 3 hours and 50 minutes. As was the custom, the first pitch was thrown at 3:00 p.m.; home plate umpire Barry McCormick called the game as lights began appearing in the windows of buildings across the Charles River, just before 7:00 p.m.
The longest American League game, and tied for the longest major league game by innings which ended with one team winning, was a 7-6 victory by the Chicago White Sox over the Milwaukee Brewers in 25 innings, at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1984. The game began at 7:30 p.m. on May 8, 1984, and after scoring early runs both teams scored twice in the 8th inning; but the game was suspended after 17 innings with the score tied 3-3 due to a league curfew rule prohibiting an inning from beginning after 12:59 a.m. The game was continued the following evening, May 9, 1984, and both teams scored three times in the 21st inning to make the score 6-6; finally, in the bottom of the 25th, the White Sox' Harold Baines hit a home run to end the contest. Tom Seaver was the winning pitcher in relief. A regularly scheduled game followed, meaning both nights saw 17 innings played; Seaver also started, and won, the second game. The official time of the entire 25-inning game was 8 hours, 6 minutes, also a major league record.
On September 11, 1974, the St. Louis Cardinals won a marathon night game against the New York Mets, after 7 hours 4 minutes, and 25 innings, also tied for the longest game to a decision in major league history. Two Mets' errors led to the Cardinals' winning run, starting with an errant pickoff throw that allowed Bake McBride to scamper all the way around from first. St. Louis won, 4–3. The Mets went to the plate 103 times, a record in a major league game; the Cards were not far behind with 99 plate appearances. All told, a record 175 official at-bats were recorded, with a major-league record 45 runners stranded. Only a thousand fans were still at Shea Stadium when the game ended at 3:13 a.m. ET. (Unlike the American League, the National League did not have a curfew.) This was the longest game played to a decision without a suspension.
On April 15, 1968, the Houston Astros defeated the Mets 1-0 in a 24-inning game at the Houston Astrodome. The 6-hour, 6-minute contest, which ended with the Astros' Bob Aspromonte hitting a grounder through the legs of Mets shortstop Al Weis in the bottom of the 24th, remains the longest shutout game in Major League history. It also had the most scoreless innings (23) in a major-league game.
The longest American League game to end in a tie was a 24-inning contest between the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics on July 21, 1945. The teams were tied 1-1 when the game was called due to darkness at Shibe Park; the Tigers' Les Mueller had pitched a record 19 2⁄3 innings (and only given up one run) before being taken out in the 20th inning.
The longest game to end in a scoreless tie was a National League contest between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers on September 11, 1946. The teams went 19 innings before darkness fell at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, forcing the game to be called on account of darkness. In the American League, the longest 0-0 game was played between the Washington Senators and Detroit Tigers on July 16, 1909. The game was called after 18 innings due to darkness at Bennett Park in Detroit. The longest scoreless period within a completed game came in the April 15, 1968 game between the Astros and Mets which remained scoreless after 23 innings.
The Washington Senators became the first team in Major League history to play multiple games of at least 20 innings in a season when they defeated the Minnesota Twins 9-7 on August 9, 1967, in 20 innings, having set a franchise record for innings played with a 22-inning win over the Chicago White Sox on June 12 of that year. This feat would later be accomplished by the 1971 Oakland Athletics who had games of 21 and 20 innings and the 1989 Los Angeles Dodgers who played two 22-inning games, against the Houston Astros in June and the Montreal Expos in August.
The longest doubleheader in Major League history came on May 31, 1964. The San Francisco Giants beat the New York Mets 5-3 in nine innings in the day's first game at Shea Stadium, and then won the nightcap 8-6 after 23 innings (despite a rare triple play turned by the Mets in the 14th). The two games lasted a combined nine hours, 52 minutes. The Mets' Ed Kranepool played in all 32 innings of the two games; Kranepool had been called up to the team that day after having played in both games of a doubleheader the day before for their Triple-A farm club in Buffalo.
On June 8, 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 4-3 in 18 innings while the Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 2-1 in 20 innings. This was the second time in Major League history that two games of 18 innings or more were played on same day; the first was August 15, 2006.
On September 21, 2013, just past 2:00 a.m. ET, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 in 18 innings in a game that had started at 7:10 p.m. the night before. Both teams were in contention for an American League wild card slot, with Boston having won the AL East division while this game was being played.
On September 24, 2013, the Arizona Diamondbacks set a major league record by playing their 77th extra inning of the season when their game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park went into the 11th inning. This broke the record of 76 extra innings played by the Minnesota Twins in 1969.
On August 10, 2014, at 12:39 AM, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-4 in 19 innings in a game that had started at 6 PM the night before. Albert Pujols' walk off homer was quickly reviewed, per Boston's request, but the call was confirmed. That same day the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in a 19 inning game of their own, Both teams used all their available bench reserves as well as their entire available bullpen, Toronto even used starting pitcher Marcus Stroman as a pinch runner at one point. Tigers starter Rick Porcello would be credited with the loss after coming into the game in the 18th inning. Toronto reliever Chad Jenkins would get the win after pitching 6 innings of relief (an unusually long outing for a reliever) With José Bautista hitting a walk-off single to score Munenori Kawasaki to win the game. Toronto starter R.A. Dickey had begun warming up in the bullpen in the top of the 19th and likely would have come on in relief had the game gone to 20 innings. The game was the then longest in franchise history for Toronto. It is now tied with another 19 inning game, a 2-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians on July 1, 2016.
On April 11, 2015, the Boston Red Sox defeated their historic AL East division rivals the New York Yankees 6-5 in 19 innings at Yankee Stadium. The game began at 7:05 PM on April 10, and ended at 2:13 AM, after 6 hours and 49 minutes of play. The game also included a 16-minute delay due to a brief power outage. It was the longest game between the two teams since the 20-inning, 4-3 Yankees win on August 29, 1967. The length of the game in fact prompted a Twitter joke during the game by Yankees' media personality Mark Feinsand at 12:10 AM on the 11th regarding Mark Teixeira's birthday: Mark Teixeira was 34 when this game began. He's now 35. #TrueStory.
Notable postseason extra-inning games
The longest major league postseason game was the second game of the 2014 National League Division Series, with the visiting San Francisco Giants winning 2-1 in 18 innings over the Washington Nationals. The game ended just after midnight on October 5, 2014 and lasted 6 hours 23 minutes. The Nationals had been leading 1-0 with two out in the ninth inning, with starter Jordan Zimmermann one out away from a complete-game shutout, but following a decision by manager Matt Williams to remove Zimmermann with two out after the latter walked Joe Panik, Washington closer Drew Storen gave up a single to Giants catcher Buster Posey and an RBI double to Pablo Sandoval, scoring Panik to tie the game 1-1. Posey was thrown out at the plate trying to score the second San Francisco run on Sandoval's double. Bruce Bochy challenged the call but the call stood and it ended the top of the ninth. After Sergio Romo retired the Nationals in order in the bottom half, the game went into extra innings. There was no further scoring until Giants first baseman Brandon Belt led off the top of the 18th inning with a home run. Hunter Strickland, a September call-up, recorded the save.
Another 18-inning contest was played between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros on October 9, 2005. In the 4th game of a National League Division Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston, the Braves (who were trailing the series two games to one and facing elimination) took a 6-1 lead into the 8th inning. A grand slam by Lance Berkman in the bottom of the 8th brought the score to 6-5, and with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Brad Ausmus homered to tie the game and send it to extra innings. The score remained deadlocked at 6-6 until the 18th, when the Astros' Chris Burke (who entered the game in the 9th inning as a pinch runner) homered to left field to win the game and send Houston to the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Roger Clemens, who was brought in to pinch-hit in the 15th and pitched the last three innings in relief, was credited as the winning pitcher in the 5-hour, 50-minute contest. In a somewhat odd coincidence, Adam LaRoche and Tim Hudson played in both 18 inning games. This one as Atlanta Braves and the other one as opposing sides of one another with Hudson pitching in both games as the visiting team's starting pitcher. It is the longest winner in a potential clinching game in baseball history.
Exactly two weeks later on October 23, 2005, the same Houston Astros team lost to the Chicago White Sox in the longest World Series game by time, Game 3 of the 2005 Series, played at Minute Maid Park, which lasted 5 hours 41 minutes, breaking the previous record of 4 hours 51 minutes in Game 1 of the 2000 World Series. It also shared the record for the longest World Series game by innings at 14, tied with Game 2 of the 1916 World Series, played on October 9, 1916 between the Brooklyn Robins and Boston Red Sox at Braves Field, and Game 1 of the 2015 World Series, played on October 27, 2015 between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
The 1991 World Series was the longest best-of-seven World Series ever in terms of total number of innings, running out to seven games, three of which were extra-innings contests (the longest of which ran out to 12 innings), a total of 69 innings before the trophy was finally claimed by the Minnesota Twins.
The 1986 National League Championship Series, which also involved the Astros, was notable for its two climactic extra-inning games. After the Astros and the New York Mets split the first four games of the series, the Mets won Game 5 in 12 innings and Game 6 in 16 innings to claim the pennant.
The 1986 American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and the then named California Angels featured a dramatic game where The Angels were leading 3 games to 1 and leading 5-4 in game 5, one strike away from the first ever pennant in franchise history, only for Red Sox's Dave Henderson hit a two-run homer off Angel closer Donnie Moore in the top of the ninth inning to give the Red Sox the lead. The Angels tied it in the bottom half but in the top of the 11th, Henderson's sac fly off Moore proved to be the winning margin and the Angels lost the game. The series returned to Boston and the Angels were outscored a combined 18-5 in games 6 and 7 to lose the pennant.
The 1980 National League Championship Series, played between the Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies, had four of its five games go to extra innings. The Astros won the second and third games in 10 and 11 innings respectively, while the Phillies took Games 4 and 5 in 10 innings each.
The 2012 American League Division Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees had back-to-back extra inning games, going 12 and 13 innings respectively. The Yankees won Game 3 on a walk-off home run by Raúl Ibañez and the Orioles returned the favor the next night by winning Game 4.
In the 1995 American League Division Series, the Seattle Mariners and Yankees battled in Game 2 in 15 innings. The Yankees won the game on a two-run walk-off home run by Jim Leyritz, setting the record for longest game in MLB postseason history by time until 2005. In Game 5, the Mariners won the game and the series in 11 innings on Edgar Martínez's famous double that scored Ken Griffey Jr. Until 2011, this was the only LDS game 5 in either league to go into extra innings.
The 2014 American League Wild Card Game featured the first extra inning game in just its third year of postseason existence, was won by the Kansas City Royals over the Oakland Athletics in 12 innings.
The longest "winner take all" game (defined as the final game of a postseason series, in which the winning team clinches the title or advances to the next round while the loser is eliminated from the postseason) in MLB postseason history is Game 7 of the 1924 World Series, won by the Washington Senators over the New York Giants in 12 innings.
The longest major league All-Star Game by time was played on July 15, 2008 at Yankee Stadium, with the American League winning 4-3 in 15 innings after four hours, 50 minutes. This was the first time in All-Star game history that the AL won an All-Star game in extra innings. The previous nine times The National League went 8-0-1 in extra inning games.
The All-Star Game of July 11, 1967 at Anaheim Stadium also lasted 15 innings, but was considerably shorter in terms of elapsed time. The All-Star Game of July 9, 2002 at Miller Park was controversially declared a 7-7 tie after 11 innings, when both teams ran out of available pitchers.
On November 6, 2010, the record for longest Japan Series game was set in Game 6. The Chiba Lotte Marines and the Chunichi Dragons played 15 innings totaling 5 hours and 43 minutes. The game ended a 2-2 tie leading to a Game 7 in which the Marines won the game and the championship.
The longest college baseball game was played between Texas and Boston College on May 30, 2009, in a regional NCAA Division I Baseball Championship tournament game at Austin, Texas. Texas won the game, 3-2, in 25 innings as the visiting team under NCAA tournament rules on home-team declaration during a tournament. The game lasted seven hours three minutes.
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