Braves will play first 7-inning doubleheader Sunday



Because of Friday’s postponement due to inclement weather, the Braves and Phillies will play a seven-inning doubleheader on Sunday. It will be the Braves’ first time doing so as part of Major League Baseball’s many rule changes for the 2020 season.

Seven-inning doubleheaders are commonplace in the minor leagues. In late July, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to implement the rule for this season, saying it fit with the health and safety protocols and was logical given the “dynamic circumstances” of the season, which will feature a heavy dose of doubleheaders due to frequent postponements brought on by the coronavirus.

“The one thing is, all of a sudden, the fifth inning is the seventh,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who was a long-time minor-league coach. “That’s the big thing. You go to the bullpen earlier in the game, obviously. Still, a solid start like a nine-inning game is what you’re looking for. … You go to your big guys quicker in a game like that because the seventh is the fifth. That’s the one thing you do. You go to your go-to guys earlier in the game.”

For now, Sunday is the only doubleheader on the Braves’ schedule. They’d made it through 14 games without a postponement, and fortunately, their first one was due to weather rather than the virus.

The Braves haven’t named a starter for Game 1 of the doubleheader. Kyle Wright, who was scheduled for Friday, started Saturday. Left-hander Max Fried will start Game 2 Sunday on his normal turn. The team will know its Game 1 starter following Saturday’s game. Josh Tomlin and Tyler Matzek are logical candidates.

“For me, I’m still going to try to go as deep in the game as I can,” Fried said. “I’ve done this numerous times in the minor leagues where it’s two seven-inning games. It’s a quick turnaround. You start feeling out the pace of the (first) game, third or fourth inning comes around, you know it’s about halfway.

“So just knowing the preparation that you would do, you try to keep it the same as possible but also know that you’re reliant on the game before. It’s a lot of doing your best guess as possible and do everything you can to know you’re ready. So if I’m ready a little bit earlier and have to wait around, I think that’s probably going to be the safer bet.”

Notes from Saturday:

- Speaking with reporters, Snitker pointed out one of many schedule oddities: After the Braves finish their current nine-game road trip, they have only two trips remaining this season.

That isn’t a bad thing. While MLB and its teams are obviously instituting strict policies to minimize players’ potential exposure to the virus, traveling comes with unavoidable challenges. This is the Braves’ second road trip after beginning the season with five games in New York and Tampa Bay.

“We had a meeting before we went on the road trip to just confirm that we’re not getting careless and we’re doing the right things,” Snitker said. “Before every road trip, we’ll talk about it again. We’ve talked a lot more than I ever thought we would about all this. Our guys have been really good.”

- Since the recent outbreaks, MLB has added to its protocols. There is security stationed in each team’s hotel to monitor player activities. If a player is committing any violation of the sport’s protocols, the individual will be reported to Major League Baseball.

“There’s security in there,” Snitker said. “There’s an MLB monitor in there making sure everybody is wearing masks and not out running around, bringing shopping bags in there. Things like that. Last night, it was just take a sandwich back, order room service, get on their video games or watch movies.”

While the Marlins are finally back to playing – and off to a 7-1 start – the Cardinals haven’t made it through their rough patch. Due to positive tests, the Cardinals haven’t played since July 29. Their weekend series against the Cubs was postponed, and the latest reports suggest their upcoming series with the Pirates will also be put off.

The Cardinals will have missed 12 games by weekend’s end, likely with more postponements to come.

“It’s definitely a reminder of how quickly things can get out of hand,” Fried said. “You just do risk management, saying ‘Is me doing this activity, or just leaving the room, worth potentially getting it?’ It’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Most of the time, it’s just hang out in your room, stay as low key as possible and let’s try to get through the season. We can sacrifice the next couple months for the betterment of the whole season and everyone.”

Snitker added: “That’s all you need to look at is what can happen if you let your guard down. It can really take a toll on you. Like I told them, it’s better to lead a boring existence on the road. .... I think you can put up with it over this short period of time. Tomorrow’s doubleheader, that’s just less time to spend in the hotel tomorrow evening. That won’t even be a bad thing.”