A baseball game ends when one team is leading after completing the minimum number of innings for a regulation game, which is usually nine innings. If a game is unplayable due to weather, the game ends early when one team is leading after completing the minimum number of innings, which is usually five.
4.11 The score of a regulation game is the total number of runs scored by each team at the moment the game ends. (a) The game ends when the visiting team completes its half of the ninth inning if the home team is ahead. (b) The game ends when the ninth inning is completed, if the visiting team is ahead.
In 2022, an MLB game lasts three hours and five minutes.
The Major League Baseball season runs from the start of April to the end of September, with each club playing 162 games. That means about one day off every ten days, so baseball is pretty much “game-a-day”.
A game is considered a regulation game – also known as an “official game” – once the visiting team has made 15 outs (five innings) and the home team is leading, or once the home team has made 15 outs regardless of score.
4-2-2 The game ends when the team behind in score has completed its turn at bat in the seventh inning, or any inning thereafter if extra innings are necessary. If the home team scores a go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh inning, or in any extra inning, the game is terminated at that point.
The Official Baseball Rulebook states “A regulation game consists of 9 innings, unless extended because of a tie score…” (Rule 7.01). The game continues until the tie is broken, but the home team still has the last at bat.
The goal of the game of baseball is for a team to smack the ball around on offense in order to score as many runs as possible while trying to prevent exactly that while on defense. In baseball, the team that is able to score more runs at the end of the allotted innings of the game is deemed the winner.
Sensing that an official ruling was necessary as more and more baseball teams were formed, the Knickerbockers decided to form a committee in 1856 to tackle the issue. The desire for more competitive defense won out, and nine innings – and nine men – became the standard for good.
For the MLB World Series and Postseason, games are also nine innings. High School baseball games are only seven innings, and Little League games are six. Softball games are only seven innings of play.
In Major League Baseball, a game may end in a tie only due to weather or, historically, darkness (a called game due to darkness is unlikely to happen now that all Major League parks have floodlights; darkness also means reaching the curfew prohibiting innings from starting after 1 am local time).
In the 2020 MLB season, a new rain delay rule was introduced. An official game is recorded if the game completes the fifth inning (15 total outs per team) or if the home team is leading in the middle of the fifth inning.
When a game is tied after nine innings, the teams play one final half-inning. A runner starts on first base for the hitting team, and if that team scores a run, it wins the game.
Hits, walks, and hit by pitch have stayed quite steady. On average, strikeouts take 1.5 pitches more than other kinds of out, so this trade of strikeouts for outs on balls in play will also add time to the game. In fact, all of the factors point in the same direction of contributing to increasing game length.
You’ll see why shortly. As of Tuesday morning, there had been 244 games played in the 2022 season. Double that number to account for each game having a starting pitcher for each team, and you’ve got 488 starts. Per FanGraphs, those 488 starts yielded 2,302.67 innings pitched, or 4.72 per start.
According to the all-knowing Google, the 1910 matchup between the Atlanta Crackers and Mobile Sea Gulls is the first choice that pops up when you search fastest baseball game ever. It was 32 minutes long.
League Year-By-Year Miscellaneous
Currently, major league teams playing two games in a day usually play a “day-night doubleheader”, in which the stadium is emptied of spectators and a separate admission is required for the second game. However, such games are officially regarded as separate games on the same date, rather than as a doubleheader.
In baseball, a series refers to two or more consecutive games played between the same two teams. Historically and currently, professional baseball season revolves around a schedule of series, each typically lasting three or four games.
The 10 Run Rule, also known as the Mercy Rule, is when a game ends early due to one team being up by ten runs or more after a specified number of innings. This rule is in place to prevent one team from running up the score while ensuring the game ends in a reasonable amount of time.
For all games of eight or more innings, a starting pitcher must pitch at least five complete innings to receive credit as the winning pitcher. For all games of fewer than eight innings, the starting pitcher must pitch at least four innings to get credit for the win.
Earlier this week, I discussed the history of the seventh-inning stretch and its anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (TMOTTB). Every major-league team plays it during the seventh-inning stretch.
The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League, played the longest game in professional baseball history. It lasted 33 innings, with 8 hours and 25 minutes of playing time.
If the home team has the lead after the top of the ninth inning, the game is over and the home team wins. This means that the bottom of the ninth will not be played. If the home team attains the lead during the bottom of the ninth inning, the game is over immediately and the home team wins.
At the time, only every third “unfair pitch” was called a ball, meaning that a batter could only walk after nine pitches out of the strike zone. As time went on, the rule was dropped to eight balls, then seven, and so-on until four balls were settled on by the league in 1889.