Seven-inning doubleheaders, some like it, and some hate it. I’m on the side of not being fond of them. MLB implemented seven-inning doubleheaders a week into the 2020 season once COVID cases rose among specific teams. In anticipation of many postponed games due to COVID, doubleheader days reduced games to seven innings.
In 2021, MLB kept the rule along with the zombie runner at second to start extra innings. According to multiple outlets, it appears that the seven-inning doubleheader looks short-lived. There’s a chance that MLB will go back to the traditional nine-inning regulation games regardless if it’s a doubleheader day or not.
Good morning Rangers fans, Happy Doubleheader day.
Since the start of 2020, Rangers have played one doubleheader day. Fewest in baseball and the only team this season to not play a doubleheader entering today. Here's how the list breaks down. #StraightUpTX pic.twitter.com/VizISaDH3S
— Alex Plinck🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) July 18, 2021
Rangers fans are the fanbase least exposed to the seven-inning doubleheaders. Before Sunday’s double-dip against the Blue Jays in Buffalo, the Rangers played one seven-inning doubleheader. That doubleheader day came on September 12, 2020, against the Oakland Athletics. That game was postponed on August 27 due to social protests, which rescheduled the game for Saturday in mid-September. So you can look at it from multiple angles the lack of doubleheaders the Rangers needed to play the past two seasons.
First, credit the players and medical staff to avoid any COVID outbreaks. Second, add some luck, considering the club hasn’t played a team suffering from an outbreak. Finally, any rain threats don’t bother the start time of any home game with a roof. Back in 2019, the Rangers played three doubleheaders that year, two due to rain and the other due to extreme circumstances (Tyler Skaggs passing away).
“We needed to do it last year,” Chris Woodward said before game one. “I think next year it would be better if we go back to nine innings. I wouldn’t say it’s unfair, but when you’re playing seven-inning games, it’s different.”
Back in June, I talked with Dale Scott about my opinion of the unbalanced aspect of seven-inning doubleheaders.
“I would have loved seven-inning doubleheaders,” Scott chuckled. A point he brought up regarding how many teams have shut down relief pitching or how many teams rallied late to overtake a lead.
Madison Bumgarner, who came so close to throwing multiple no-hitters for the Giants, just threw a 7-inning no-hitter against the Braves that doesn't count as one: pic.twitter.com/DYay4MtcaI
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 25, 2021
For Rangers All-Star starter Kyle Gibson, it’s interchangeable for him.
“I don’t think it matters too much to me,” Gibson told me. “It’s still a game.”
However, Kyle brought up one point: keeping consistency among seven inning and nine-inning games and celebrating feats regardless of the inning set for that game. “I would only say if we’re going to go seven innings, then we need to count a seven-inning game as much as a nine-inning game, and if a guy throws a no-hitter, he gets a no-hitter. If you’re going to set the innings at seven, then that’s a full game. If you’re going to set it as nine, then it’s a full game.”
Regarding preparation, there’s not much of a change.
“We all know it’s a seven-inning game, and the fifth inning is the seventh inning, and you can do the math after that,” Woodward told me.
For game one’s starter, Kolby Allard, there’s no preparation change other than starting a day later because of the rainout Saturday. Unfortunately, the most exciting thing happening during Sunday’s doubleheader is whether Jonah Heim’s tattoo on his left arm is the Buffalo Skyline (spoiler, it is). The Blue Jays outscored the Rangers 15-0 in Sunday’s two games and 25-2 over the weekend.
Blue Jays sweep the Rangers this weekend and the doubleheader.
— Alex Plinck🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) July 18, 2021
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