Why was Red Sox-Astros ALCS Game 2 delayed? MLB pitching change rules, explained

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When a baseball game is delayed, it’s usually because of inclement weather. Playing in a retractable-roof stadium like Minute Maid Park in Houston usually helps to eliminate just about any delay.

But fans watching the Astros host the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday had to wait nearly 15 minutes for the game to resume after it was stopped in the top of the second inning. 

The delay began when Astros manager Dusty Baker came out to the mound to take the ball from starter Luis Garcia. Jake Odorizzi came on in relief.

MORE: Dusty Baker reacts to Kiké Hernández’s Game 1 home run during interview

But if it was just a pitching change, why did it need to take so long?

Why was the Red Sox-Astros game delayed?

Normally when a pitching change is made, a reliever has only a certain amount of time to get ready.

When the game is broadcast locally, pitchers have 2 minutes, 5 seconds to get ready, according to MLB rules. That number goes up to 2 minutes, 25 seconds for a nationally televised regular-season game and 2 minutes, 55 seconds for postseason and tiebreaker games.

MORE: Astros-Red Sox ALCS Game 1 takeaways

The timer starts when the final out of an inning is recorded, with only a few exceptions, none of which applied in this situation.

Why not?

The biggest exception to the rule is in the case of an injury replacement. It was later reported that Garcia was removed from the game because of knee discomfort. MLB rules state that if a pitcher enters a game after another was removed due to injury, they are “granted as many warmup pitches as the umpire allows.”

Baker was hoping to bring in a pitcher who was capable of giving him a starter or long reliever’s workload. According to The Complete Pitcher, starting pitchers typically like to take about 20 minutes to warm up before a game. That includes several minutes of jogging and stretching, nearly 15 minutes of throwing and a few minutes of rest before going out to mound. 

MORE: 2021 MLB playoff schedule

Now, consider the case of Odorizzi. He has relieved just four times in 220 career major league appearances (he started once in the 2019 postseason). He was added to the Astros’ ALCS roster after being left off their ALDS roster.

The last time Odorizzi threw a competitive pitch for Houston was on Oct. 2, exactly two weeks earlier, when he went 4 2/3  innings against the Athletics.

Odorizzi was going to need plenty of time to get loose, especially because he is not used to being called in on the spur of the moment. 

The Red Sox did not exactly give him a gracious welcome. He served up singles to two of the first three batters he faced before Rafael Devers hit the Red Sox’s second grand slam in two innings. Two innings later, Kiké Hernandez continued his hot hitting with a solo shot off Odorizzi to extend Boston’s lead to 9-0.





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