August 9, 2011

MLB: Francona expects to hear about length of game

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have been hearing complaints for years that their games take far too long.

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LONG, LONG NIGHT: Boston starting pitcher Josh Beckett delivers a pitch during the Red Sox 4 hour, 15 minute game against the New York Yankees on Sunday in Boston.

AP photo


Red Sox vs. Twins
When: 8:10 tonight
Probable starters: Erik Bedard (4-7, 3.55) vs. Francisco Liriano (7-9, 5.03)

After their latest marathon Sunday night, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he wouldn't be surprised to hear from Major League Baseball again. The Red Sox beat the Yankees 3-2 in 10 innings on Sunday night, and the game clocked in at four hours, 15 minutes.

"We'll probably get a letter, which I understand," Francona said on Monday before his team opened a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins. "It makes sense. They want to get it going and I understand that."

Pace of play has been a hot-button issue in the league office in recent years, with the Yankees and Red Sox two of the biggest targets. Both teams have hitters who like to work deep into counts and pitchers known for taking their time on the mound, such as Boston's Josh Beckett, who started Sunday.

Francona says he didn't think Beckett was stalling deliberately, but the warm night and the Yankees' patient hitters, coupled with the longer commercial breaks for the nationally televised game, caused it to drag.

"I thought Beckett was a little slow last night," Francona said. "If the league wants to send something and say speed it up, I don't blame them. But I'd rather us win. It was hot. They were working him really hard. We talk to all our pitchers about pitching quick because we believe in it. But he wasn't doing it on purpose."

It's a topic that has come up before, including last year when umpire Joe West told The Record in New Jersey that the pace of play in a Red Sox-Yankees series was "pathetic and embarrassing."

Francona said the Red Sox have received letters from MLB in the past advising them to speed up their games, and both players and managers can be fined if the league deems them to not be heeding their calls.

But Francona said the umpiring crew never said a word about the pace of play on Sunday night.


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