Astros' pace of play has slowed since move to AL

Astros' pace of play has slowed since move to AL

Astros' pace of play has slowed since move to AL

HOUSTON -- While the Astros have now played in the American League for over four months, they may have just received their most intensive taste of their new league's pace of play.

The final two games of Houston's series against Boston took a combined seven hours and 47 minutes, with both clocking in a shade under four hours. Neither of them were extra-inning affairs.

The games were both longer than a 10-inning game against Milwaukee on June 20, and clocked in a minute or two shy of an 11-inning win over Pittsburgh on May 18.

With the designated hitter, the discrepancy between the team's former league and the AL are well-documented, and the Astros are seeing it firsthand this summer.

Houston's 2013 games have averaged three hours, 12 minutes and 38 seconds -- a 10 1/2-minute increase over the 2012 mean. Already, 79 of Houston's 113 games have clocked in over three hours, compared to 87 over a full 162 last season.

Raise that total by half an hour and the difference is even more staggering.

Prior to Friday's game, 24 Astros game have lasted at or beyond the 3 1/2 hour mark, compared to 18 in the National League last year. Houston has only played six extra-inning contest.

Despite pushes in recent years to speed up the game, Houston manager Bo Porter said no one from Major League Baseball contacted him or the organization after the notoriously slow Red Sox rolled through.

"No, we've never heard from anybody," Porter said. "You can have a lot of pitching changes, deep counts, timeouts, multiple baserunners where the pitcher holds the ball a little longer. There are so many things over the course of a game that could add to the normal make a pitch, catcher throws the ball back and he's on the mound in 9-10 seconds. Those games obviously go fast."

Porter said the pace of play is a concern to fans or the media, but it doesn't really affect coaches or players much.

"As the manager, I'm so in tune pitch by pitch and thought by thought, I couldn't tell you what time it was," he said. "Sometimes after a game we win, I have to ask what the score was. I just know we had more than the other team. I'm oblivious to the amount of time the game could be taking."

Still, some games have to feel longer than others, right?

"The games that we win go real fast and the games that we lose take forever," he quipped.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.