RailCats making quicker work of eating innings

2013-06-11T22:00:00Z 2013-06-11T23:46:05Z RailCats making quicker work of eating inningsBy Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | When the RailCats average more than three hours per game, it's in part because of the patience of Gary hitters at the plate.

A quality at-bat, according to the RailCats, includes forcing an opposing pitcher into a full count and throwing as many pitches as possible in the early innings.

Fouling off balls and full-count walks are part of the batting routine of the team.

So it's no surprise that last season, the 'Cats averaged three hours, seven minutes per game.

This year, games are averaging 3:08, thanks in part to an 11-inning season opener. But more RailCats games this year have finished in under three hours than not.

"I don't think it's so much the time, but the enjoyment of the game and the pace of the game," Tagert said. "I don't know if it's so much two hours and two minutes or two hours and 52 minutes, if the pace of the game moves along ... I think what drives fans crazy the most is the hitters stepping out, taking a lot of time in between pitches, but those constant visits (to the mound), in the NFL a timeout is a strategy session, but in baseball I don't think fans see it that way."

Tagert said he believes fans care more about action than time of game. Of those games that have lasted longer than three hours, three have included fewer than 10 runs.

Tagert said his hitters aren't changing their approach, citing leadoff hitter Adam Klein as an example. Klein and No. 2 hitter Mike Massaro entered Tuesday's game against Quebec tied for fifth in the American Association with 15 walks each.

"I think there is something about how quickly a pitcher works the pace, and it might be a matter of seconds," Tagert said. "There's a difference between a pitcher who gets the ball back and works a quick pace to a guy who gets the ball back and walks around the mound. I think those seconds add up."

Tuesdays' game included an interesting showdown of two quick pitchers. RailCats righty Will Krout is a quick-inning worker, rarely loading up on pitches in the early innings. Quebec starter Bryan Rembisz doesn't take long between pitches either, barely letting batters step back into the batter's box before throwing the next pitch. The top of the first inning was 10 minutes long and the bottom of the first inning was five.

"(Rembisz) works at a pace that is a sportswriter's dream, and every fan that loves the game," Tagert said. "I guess your average fan that doesn't like the three-hour game in baseball, this guy is working on a pace that is unique."

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