Minor matters: Extra-inning runner rule debuts, game goes 13

BOWIE, Md. (AP) — Baseball fans who hate the new minor league extra-innings rule might enjoy this: The first time it happened, the game wouldn’t end.

The new rule puts a runner at second base to begin both halves of every inning starting with the 10th. Tied at 4, the Double-A Harrisburg Senators and Bowie Baysox each scored a run in the 10th Thursday night. They both scored once in the 11th, too. Harrisburg then got four in the 13th, gave up three and hung on for a season-opening 10-9 Eastern League win in 4 hours, 4 minutes.

Previously used at only the lowest rookie leagues, the rules now applies to all levels. With baseball officials concerned about preserving the arms of young pitchers — and pace of play — it took effect Thursday on opening day throughout the minors.

The Senators, a Washington affiliate, used six pitchers, including Bryan Harper, brother of Nationals star Bryce Harper. The Baysox, a Baltimore farm club, also used six. Bowie had the potential winning run at the plate in the 13th, but Mike Yastrzemski — grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski — flied out to end it.

A later game in the Class A Midwest League went 11 innings — Beloit beat Wisconsin 4-3 when a Timber Rattlers’ infielder threw away Skyler Weber’s leadoff bunt, allowing the runner to score the game-ending run from second base.

There had been talk that Major League Baseball would try this experiment in the 10th inning of spring training games this year, but that didn’t happen. There also has been talk it would be tried in the 11th inning of All-Star Games.

But Commissioner Rob Manfred has said there were no plans to use it in MLB regular-season games.