Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
So that's what James Cameron has been up to.
I thought Cameron was working on the $700 million sequel to "Avatar." Turns out, he's turned his attention to directing Major League Baseball games.
That has to be the explanation, right? How else could this be happening?
Thursday, the Cubs and Reds played for over five hours. So did the A's and Yankees.
The Red Sox/Orioles game was shorter, but not by much. It ended at a quarter to midnight, about four hours and 35 minutes after the first pitch. That's an hour and 21 minutes longer than Cameron's "Titanic."
Nine innings just isn't enough anymore. Since June 1st, 27 games have gone into extras. That means that nearly 16 percent of games this month have been tied at the end of nine. Keep in mind, only 7.9 percent of games went into extras in 2012.
The season is less than halfway over and five teams have already played ten or more extra inning games. The Rockies lead the way with 12, which is one more than the White Sox and two ahead of Arizona, Cincinnati and Toronto.
Generally speaking, the location hasn't mattered. Home teams are 13-14 in the 27 extra inning contests we've seen this month.
Seven of the 27 games have gone past the 13th inning, including two yesterday. We'll have to see how the A's and Cubs fare on Friday but the odds aren't in their favor. In the last week, the Red Sox, White Sox and Blue Jays have all lost the day after winning in 14 innings.
The last day we didn't see at least one game go into extras? You'd have to go all the way back to June 3rd. That's the only time this month that every game has finished on time.
Having Interleague every week isn't helping, either. St. Louis and Kansas City are located about four hours away from each other but they only play once this season. That's why the two teams endured a four hour and 32 minute rain delay to complete their game on May 30th. The final out was recorded at 3:14 am CT.
Can you imagine being the manager for one of those teams? Monday against the Rays, the Red Sox ran out of relievers and had to use Franklin Morales in the 13th and 14th innings.
He was supposed to start on Wednesday night. The Red Sox had to call up Alfredo Aceves from Triple-A two days later to make the spot start.
You're probably wondering what kind of impact all these four and five-hour thrillers have had on the fantasy side of things.
Well, it certainly hasn't been good for the closers. Guys who pitch in the ninth inning are generally very routine-oriented. If the setting is even a little bit different than what they're used to, they tend to struggle. That's why many managers are hesitant to use closers in non-save situations.
But when it's tied 2-2 and there's nobody else left in your bullpen, what other choice do you have? Hence why Mariano Rivera got the ball in the 18th inning Thursday night in Oakland. The unfamiliarity of extra innings has also cost relievers Fernando Rodney (1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 BB Monday versus Boston), Andrew Bailey (1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB Monday against Tampa Bay) and Addison Reed (3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER versus Chicago last Wednesday) in recent days.
The wave of extra inning games has also been a detriment to starting pitchers. Jarrod Parker (8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) and Hiroki Kuroda (8 IP, 2 H, 2 ER) both pitched well enough to win on Thursday. Thanks to a 14-inning scoreless drought, both received no-decisions. Matt Harvey (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 6 K's, 0 BB) and Jose Fernandez (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 7 K's) faced a similar dilemma during last Saturday's 20-inning marathon at Citi Field.
For hitters, extra innings can work either way. Kevin Youkilis saw his average drop 16 points (.235 to .219) after a pitiful 0-for-7 outing in Thursday's extra inning loss. Teammate Travis Hafner also watched his average plummet after going 0-for-8 (.231 to .220).
On the other hand, bonus baseball has been very kind to Ben Zobrist and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Zobrist ripped five hits in Monday's 14-inning loss to the Red Sox, catapulting his average from .260 all the way up to .274. Across the diamond, Salty used four hits to drive his average up to .285 (he began the day at .274).
Nobody has enjoyed extra innings more than Philadelphia's John Mayberry. Last Monday against the Marlins, Mayberry entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. He tied the score with a solo home run in the tenth before winning it an inning later on a walkoff grand slam.
That gave Mayberry two jacks and five RBI in a span of two innings. That's the same number of homers Mayberry has hit in his other 141 at bats this season.
Baseball fans aren't the only ones with bags under their eyes. Hockey fans are probably just as tired after watching Wednesday's Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, one of the longest games in playoff history.
After Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw scored the game-winning goal in triple overtime, NBC's Pierre McGuire asked Shaw, "What do you do now?"