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Maddon points to quality at-bats to explain game pace

SEATTLE -- Entering Monday night's contest against the Mariners, the Rays were averaging 3 hours, 17 minutes and 45 seconds per nine-inning game. That ranked longer than any other team in baseball. The Dodgers were second at 3 hours, 10 minutes and 45 seconds.

"At least we're leading in something right now," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I think part of that is the number of pitches we do see. You have to consider from the offensive perspective also. I don't know if we lead the league in potential challenges, play on the field, I don't know how that plays out.

"We have a couple of pitchers who probably can be a little more time efficient between pitches. But overall, I'm a little surprised that that's true, quite frankly. The only thing I think that validates [the Rays leading the league in longest games], looking at the numbers is we do see a lot of pitches on a nightly basis as an offense. We've worked good at-bats the whole season."

Sunday's Rays-Indians game at Tropicana Field lasted 3 hours, 48 minutes, giving the team its 13th consecutive game longer than three hours. Their last 12 games have averaged 3 hours, 44 minutes (including one extra-inning game).

Rays catcher Jose Molina, who has seen a lot having first played in the Major Leagues in 1999, said the only thing he's noticed is "guys not throwing strikes."

"Pitchers not throwing strikes or hitters having good at-bats and fouling off good pitches," Molina said. "And that takes you to a long inning, and a lot of changes of pitchers."

Molina did note one possible offshoot of longer games.

"What probably it does, the infielders and outfielders, instead of being on their toes, now they're getting back on their heels," Molina said. "Because they don't see any movement.

"When the pitcher throws strikes and you get quick outs, the infielders keep moving. Getting behind in the count is when you can't do anything about it with the infielders and they get on their heels sometimes from being on their heels, the ball goes through."

When asked if he had any solutions, Molina offered: "No, it's just the game and that's the way it is."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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