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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Extra innings is the procedure by which a tie is broken in the sports of baseball and softball.

Ordinarily, a baseball game consists of nine innings (and a softball game seven innings), each of which is divided into halves: the visiting team bats first, after which the home team takes its turn at bat. However, if the score remains tied at the end of the regulation number of complete innings, the rules provide that "play shall continue until (1) the visiting team has scored more total runs than the home team at the end of a completed inning; or (2) the home team scores the winning run in an uncompleted inning."

The rules of the game, including the batting order, availability of substitute players and pitchers, etc., remain intact in extra innings. Managers must display caution to avoid using all their substitute players, in case the game reaches extensive extra innings. The rules call for a forfeiture if a team is unable to field a full team of 9 players.


Home-field advantage

Extra innings (or, indeed, a tied ninth inning) constitute the situation in which the home-field advantage is most pronounced in baseball. Because it bats in the second (or "bottom") half of an inning, a home team which scores to take a lead either in the ninth inning or at any point in extra innings immediately ends the inning and the game with a win for that team. A home run in such a situation is called a walk-off home run, as all players might as well simply walk off the field as soon as the home run is hit (though the batter and runners, of course, must circle the bases and touch home plate).

For the visiting team to win, on the other hand, it must score as many runs as possible in the first (or "top") half of the inning and then prevent the home team from tying or taking the lead in the bottom half.

Two minor consequences of this situation are that

  • It is impossible for the home team to win an extra-inning game by more than 4 runs, while there is no limit on the margin of victory for the visiting team. If the home team takes a lead in extra innings, then the game immediately ends. The maximum margin of victory would occur on a grand slam home run that breaks a tie.
  • The rules defining a "save" make it impossible for a home team pitcher to earn a save in extra innings, because it would require the home team to be leading going into the top of the inning - but in extra innings, that would mean the home team has already won the game, at the end of the previous inning. A home team pitcher in extra innings can only achieve a win or loss, not a save. However, an extra-inning win for the visiting team often results in a save, provided the conditions for a save are met: for example, scoring 3 or fewer runs in the top of the inning, and bringing in a new pitcher in the bottom of the inning.

Longest games


Professional (minor league)

The record for the most innings ever played in a single professional game is 33, occurring in a minor-league game in 1981. (For details of this contest, see longest professional baseball game.)

Major League Baseball

The longest game by innings in Major League Baseball was a 1-1 tie in the National League between the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers in 26 innings, at Braves Field in Boston on May 1, 1920. It had become too dark to see the ball (fields did not have lights yet and the sun was setting), and the game was considered a draw. Remarkably, by modern standards, the game time was only 3 hours and 50 minutes. The game had started at 3:00 p.m., as was the custom in those days, and it was approaching 7:00 p.m. when the game ended. Home plate umpire Barry McCormick decided to call the game when he observed lights appearing in the windows of buildings across the Charles River.

The longest American League game, and tied for the longest major league game by innings which ended with one team winning, was a 7-6 victory by the Chicago White Sox over the Milwaukee Brewers in 25 innings, at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1984. The game was begun at 7:30 p.m. on the evening of May 8, and after scoring early runs both teams scored twice in the 8th inning; but the game was suspended after 17 innings with the score tied 3-3 due to a league rule prohibiting an inning from beginning after 12:59 a.m. The game was continued the following evening, May 9, and both teams scored three times in the 21st inning to make the score 6-6; finally, in the bottom of the 25th, the White Sox' Harold Baines hit a home run to end the contest. Tom Seaver was the winning pitcher in relief. [1] (A regularly scheduled game followed, meaning both nights saw 17 innings played; Seaver also started, and won, the second game.) The official time of the entire 25-inning game was 8 hours 6 minutes, also a major league record. [1]

On September 11, 1974, the St. Louis Cardinals won a marathon night game against the New York Mets, after seven hours four minutes, and 25 innings, also tied for the longest game to a decision in major league history. Two Mets errors led to the Cardinals' winning run, starting with an errant pickoff throw that allowed Bake McBride to scamper all the way around from first. St. Louis won, 4–3. [2] The Mets went to the plate 103 times, a record in a major league game; the Cards were not far behind with 99 plate appearances. All told, a record 175 official at-bats were recorded, with a major-league record 45 runners stranded. Only a thousand fans were left on hand at Shea Stadium when the game ended at 3:13 a.m. ET. (Unlike the American League (see above example), the National League did not have a curfew.) This was the longest game played to a decision without a suspension.[2][3]

On April 15, 1968, the Houston Astros defeated the Mets 1-0 in a 24-inning game at the Houston Astrodome. The six-hour contest, which ended with the Astros' Bob Aspromonte hitting a grounder through the legs of Mets shortstop Al Weis in the bottom of the 24th, remains the longest shutout game in Major League history.[4]

The longest American League game to end in a tie was a 24-inning contest between the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics on July 21, 1945. The teams were tied 1-1 when the game was called due to darkness at Shibe Park; the Tigers' Les Mueller had pitched a record 19 2/3 innings (and only given up one run) before being taken out in the 20th.

The longest doubleheader in Major League history came on May 31, 1964. The San Francisco Giants beat the New York Mets 5-3 in nine innings in the day's first game at Shea Stadium, and then won the nightcap 8-6 after 23 innings (despite a rare triple play turned by the Mets in the 14th). The two games lasted a combined nine hours, 52 minutes. The Mets' Ed Kranepool played in all 32 innings of the two games; Kranepool had been called up to the team that day after having played in both games of a doubleheader the day before for their Triple-A farm club in Buffalo.


The longest major league postseason game was an 18-inning contest played between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros on October 9, 2005. In the fourth game of a National League Division Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston, the Braves (who were trailing the series 2 games to 1 and facing elimination) took a 6-1 lead into the 8th inning. A grand slam by Lance Berkman in the bottom of the 8th brought the score to 6-5, and with two outs in the bottom of the 9th Brad Ausmus homered to tie the game and send it to extra innings. The score remained deadlocked at 6-6 until the 18th, when the Astros' Chris Burke (who entered the game in the 9th inning as a pinch runner) homered to left field to win the game and send Houston to the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Roger Clemens, who was brought in to pinch-hit in the 15th and pitched the last three innings in relief, was credited as the winning pitcher in the 5 hour, 50 minute contest.

Exactly two weeks later, on October 23 , 2005, the same Houston Astros team lost to the Chicago White Sox in the longest World Series game by time, Game 3 of the 2005 Series: it ran 5 hours and 41 minutes. It also shared the record for the longest World Series game by innings (14), tied with Game 2 of the 1916 Series, played between the Boston Red Sox and the Brooklyn Robins on October 9 , 1916. The 1991 World Series was the longest best-of-7[5] World Series ever in terms of total number of innings, running out to seven games, three of which were extra-innings contests (the longest of which ran out to 12 innings), a total of 69 innings before the trophy was finally claimed by the Minnesota Twins.

The 1986 NLCS, which also involved the Houston Astros, was notable for its two climactic extra-inning games. After the Astros and the New York Mets split the first four games of the series, the Mets won Game 5 in 12 innings and Game 6 in 16 innings to claim the pennant.

All-Star Game

The longest major league All-Star Game by time was played on July 15, 2008 at Yankee Stadium, with the American League winning 4-3 in 15 innings after four hours, 50 minutes. The All-Star Game of July 11, 1967 at Anaheim Stadium also lasted 15 innings, but was considerably shorter in terms of elapsed time. The 2002 All-Star Game was controversially declared a tie after 11 innings, when both teams ran out of available pitchers.

College baseball

The longest college baseball game was played between Texas and Boston College on May 30, 2009, in a regional NCAA Division I Baseball Championship tournament game at Austin, Texas. Texas — which was designated the visiting team despite playing on its home field — won the game, 3-2, in 25 innings. The game lasted seven hours three minutes.[6][7]

Nippon Professional Baseball

In the Japanese professional baseball leagues, games go no longer than 12 innings. Games that are still tied after 12 innings are officially declared ties and are reflected in the team's record.


The concept of extra innings does not exist in cricket: a match that ends with both sides all out with an identical number of runs is a tie. Due to the high-scoring nature of the game, tied matches are very uncommon, having occurred only twice in the history of Test cricket and rarely in other levels of the game. Much more common is a draw, which occurs if no result is obtained before the scheduled end of the match.

Other Methods

In Japanese baseball leagues, a maximum of 3 extra innings are played, at which point the game is declared a tie (the 12th inning is the furthest the game will go).

In some recreational leagues, each team begins extra innings with a player on second base (the last player to be put out). This increases the odds that teams will score and ensures a faster resolution. There is a drawback, though, in that the home team has a big advantage in going second. Should the visiting team fail to score, all the home team must do to win is get a successful bunt and sac fly to score the lone winning run.

A similar procedure will be used by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), where each team begins the 11th inning with the game in a "reboot":

  • The coach selects where in the batting order to start the inning.
  • The batter immediately preceding the designated leadoff man is placed on first base, and the next preceding batter is placed on second base.

In subsequent innings, the batting order is not "rebooted", but the two players preceding the player scheduled to lead off the inning are placed on second and first.

The 2009 World Baseball Classic, which was sanctioned by the IBAF, planned to use the IBAF rule starting in the 13th inning, with no "reboot". As it turned out, the rule was never actually used because no game in that tournament lasted longer than 11 innings.

Another method used in recreational baseball and softball leagues is a sudden-death hit off (somewhat like a penalty shootout in soccer). Each team selects three players to hit, who proceed under normal play. There are no outs kept-- the inning is over after the third player hits. The winning team is the one who either scores the most runs, or more commonly, whichever team has a player on the highest-numbered base. If the game is still tied, the sudden death procedure proceeds, this time only one player per inning.

See also



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