Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Six Extra-Inning Games on One Day

Earlier this year, I wrote about MLB being on-pace this season for a record number of extra inning games. That's still true, though the pace has fallen from 272 to 254 (the record is 237). Yesterday went a long way towards the quest to break that record, as there were 6 different games that went to extra innings. That's not a record (quite), but it's close. The record for most extra-inning games on the same day is 7, and that's happened twice. Including those two days, there have been 6 or more extra-inning MLB games on the same day ten times*.

*I used Baseball-Reference's Play Index (and hours and hours of scrolling through a list of more than 15,000 extra-inning games) to find these dates, and their data for that sort of thing dates back to 1916. It's certainly possible that there were one or two other days with 6+ extra-inning games prior to 1916, though because there were just 16 teams back then, a day with so many extra-inning games was far less likely. In any event, this list technically covers only from 1916 on.

Here are each of those ten days, in reverse chronological order:

*August 13, 2013*

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3 (14 innings)
Reds 6, Cubs 4 (11 innings)
White Sox 4, Tigers 3 (11 innings)
Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2 (11 innings)
Diamondbacks 4, Orioles 3 (11 innings)
Marlins 1, Royals 0 (10 innings)

*June 6, 2010*

Dodgers 5, Braves 4 (11 innings)
Orioles 4, Red Sox 3 (11 innings)
Giants 6, Pirates 5 (10 innings)
Padres 6, Phillies 5 (10 innings)
Brewers 4, Cardinals 3 (10 innings)
Reds 5, Nationals 4 (10 innings)

*August 24, 2008*

Brewers 4, Pirates 3 (12 innings)
Rockies 4, Reds 3 (12 innings)
Phillies 5, Dodgers 2 (11 innings)
Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5 (11 innings)
Astros 6, Mets 4 (10 innings)
White Sox 6, Rays 5 (10 innings)

*August 15, 1998 (7)*

Cardinals 8, Pirates 7 (12 innings)
Devil Rays 8, Royals 6 (11 innings)
Athletics 10, Tigers 8 (11 innings)
Astros 5, Cubs 4 (11 innings)
Angels 6, Blue Jays 3 (11 innings)
Giants 4, Marlins 3 (10 innings)
Orioles 9, Indians 8 (10 innings)

*June 10, 1998*

Brewers 9, Royals 6 (15 innings)
Pirates 4, Indians 3 (11 innings)
White Sox 10, Cardinals 8 (11 innings)
Blue Jays 4, Marlins 3 (10 innings)
Rockies 9, Rangers 8 (10 innings)
Orioles 5, Phillies 2 (10 innings)

*May 11, 1988*

Giants 5, Cardinals 4 (16 innings)
Indians 4, Angels 3 (13 innings)
Pirates 2, Dodgers 1 (11 innings)
Phillies 4, Reds 3 (11 innings)
Mets 9, Astros 8 (10 innings)
Cubs 1, Padres 0 (10 innings)

*July 17, 1978*

Rangers 2, Orioles 0 (11 innings)
Royals 9, Yankees 7 (11 innings)
Astros 2, Phillies 1 (11 innings)
Pirates 8, Padres 7 (10 innings)
Tigers 4, Angels 3 (10 innings)
Red Sox 3, Twins 2 (10 innings)

*May 12, 1963*

Senators 3, Red Sox 2 (14 innings)
Cardinals 2, Pirates 1 (12 innings)
Angels 7, White Sox 6 (12 innings)
Phillies 6, Braves 5 (12 innings, second game)
Phillies 4, Braves 3 (11 innings, first game)
Colt .45s 2, Cubs 1 (10 innings)

*August 22, 1951*

Indians 6, Senators 5 (14 innings)
Red Sox 3, Browns 1 (13 innings)
Tigers 7, Yankees 6 (12 innings)
Braves 5, Pirates 4 (10 innings)
Dodgers 4, Cardinals 3 (10 innings, first game)
Dodgers 8, Cardinals 7 (10 innings, second game)

*July 4, 1918 (7)*

White Sox 7, Tigers 6 (12 innings)
Phillies 3, Braves 2 (12 innings)
Athletics 2, Red Sox 1 (11 innings)
Pirates 1, Reds 0 (11 innings)
Cubs 1, Cardinals 0 (10 innings)
Dodgers 4, Giants 3 (10 innings)
Indians 9, Browns 8 (10 innings)

A few things that jump out at me:


- Five of the ten days occurred in 1998 or later, and the farther back you go, the more rare so many extra-inning games become. This shouldn't be all that surprising, given that as of 1998, there were 30 teams, and until 1961, there were just 16 teams (with the majority of that growth taking place during the 1960s). It makes sense that you'd have fewer extra-inning games in the 1940s, because there were far fewer games in general, roughly half as many. That makes July 4, 1918 all the more impressive, doesn't it?

The secret: Doubleheaders

All 16 teams were matched up for a twin bill that day, as was common practice on major holidays in that era. Even with all those double headers, each of those seven extra-inning games came from a different pair of teams. That means that the only two teams in baseball that didn't play extra innings that day were the Yankees and Senators.

- None of the ten days were in April or September (or March or October, for that matter). Those months are less likely to have so many extra-inning games in one day, in part because those months aren't always fully a part of the regular season schedule, and with April especially, you're more likely to have games postponed, leaving fewer to potentially reach extra innings each day.

- Six of the ten days occurred in a year ending in 8. That's just a coincidence (...or is it?!?!).

- Yesterday (August 13, 2013) was one of just three of these ten days in which five of the extra-inning games went 11+ innings. There have also been two days on which there were five total extra-inning games, all of which went 11+ (June 12, 1983 and July 10, 2008), making yesterday one of just five dates in history with five 11+ inning games.

- June 10, 1998 fell during interleague play, making it the only date in history with six extra-inning interleague games.

- Incredibly, the Pirates were involved in all ten of those days (with a record of 4-6).

Days like yesterday have become less rare than they used to be, but they're still far from common, happening only every three years or so since the league reached its current total of 30 teams. If you were at a game last night, there's a 40% chance you got free baseball (and since I was at the White Sox/Tigers contest, I was one of those lucky recipients!), and what's not to like about that?


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