How in the world did the Red Sox play a 2-hour, 16-minute baseball game?

Rob Bradford
August 09, 2019 - 9:21 am

Two hours, 16 minutes.

This was the night of double-takes. A baseball game played in 136 minutes? Players. Fans. Reporters. Everybody in and around Fenway Park were left with Vin Scully's call of Kirk Gibson's home run ringing in their heads: "I don't believe what I just saw!"

"We’ve had a bunch of games that have moved quickly then came to a screeching halt," said Mookie Betts just before leaving the clubhouse at 9:45 p.m., otherwise known as the time the seventh inning is rolling around for most of these 7:10 p.m. starts.

"Oh, I didn’t know it was that fast," said Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon. "I can go home now and enjoy my kids,"

"Honestly, when I got to the clubhouse I was like, ‘What do we do now?’ We’ve got so much time. I can play with my kids at home, finally," noted Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Because whenever I get home they’re sleeping. I don’t know even know what to do with my life now."

This is what everyone asked for and for one night anyway they got it. A baseball game that wasn't going to make fans worried about train schedules or early-morning appointments. We're not talking about shaving a few minutes off the major league average time for a game this season (3 hours, 8 minutes). This was a full-on revolution.

It wasn't the quickest game in the majors this season. That belongs to the Marlins and Mets who treated everyone to a 1-hour, 59-minute tilt earlier this season. But it was the fastest game for the team -- the Red Sox -- who have played more minutes of baseball than any other club.

The closet any other Red Sox game had come this season was on April 16 when Chris Sale helped facilitate a 2-hour, 23-minute game at Yankee Stadium. For the year, we have had just 27 of the Red Sox games land under three hours. That's one fewer than the number of games that have gone 3 hours, 30 minutes or more.

Not to sound all curmudgeonly, but night's like Thursday make you look up when this sort of existence was the norm. Take 1978, for instance, when the average big league game took 2 hours, 28 minutes. That season the Red Sox played 19 games quicker than the one we saw in the series opener against the Angels.

I bring up 1978 because that was the year I fell in love with baseball. Now I know why.

A good chunk of baseball's problems wouldn't be lingering if this was kind of sport that could be soaked in more times than not. As Cora said before surprising his family, "I mean, that was a good baseball game."

So, how did this gift from the gods happen? It really wasn't all that complicated. A pitcher who works really fast was really good.

"Chris dominated, that’s the reason," said Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., pointing to Sale's eight innings of shutout baseball.

If it was only that simple. There was a total of five baserunners (along with two home runs). That meant less stressing about the theft of signs and bases. No need for mound visits. Not a single pitcher was replaced in the middle of an inning. Replays? There was one. 

It was what it was. Duplicating this sort of thing isn't about rule changes or mandates. It was simply about good baseball. Sure, lessons can be learned regarding the pitchers' pace. But the fact of the matter is that we simply have to take this for what it is -- the Red Sox version of Haley's Comet. 

It was nice while it lasted (or in this case didn't last).