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    The pitch clock has sped up baseball as hoped, and it might be leading to more exciting endings, too. A quarter of the way through Major League Baseball’s first season with the pitch timer, relief pitchers seem to be bearing the most stress from it, with save conversions dropping to 61.4% from 67.8% at a similar point last season. The save percentage is near the bottom range of the past decade, which averaged 65.1%, MLB said Monday.

      Don Denkinger, a major league umpire for three decades whose blown call in the 1985 World Series overshadowed a three-decade career of excellence, died Friday. He was 86. Denkinger died at Cedar Valley Hospice in Waterloo, Iowa, Denise Hanson, one of his three daughters, said. Denkinger joined the American League staff in 1969. He worked four World Series over three decades in the big leagues but was remembered most for a mistaken call that helped Kansas City win Game 6 of the 1985 World Series against St. Louis.

        The St. Louis Cardinals are last in the NL Central with a 13-25 record in a surprisingly lackluster start for one of baseball's winningest franchises. It's the worst 38-game start for the team since it was 13-25 in 1925, according to Sportradar. The Cardinals haven't finished with a losing record since they were 78-84 in 2007, and the franchise has just two losing seasons in the past 25 years. Alongside the losing, St. Louis also has experienced a bit of dysfunctiona departure for a franchise that typically sails along with very little of the choppy water it has publicly navigated already.

        The streaking Tampa Bay Rays are running out of superlatives to describe baseball’s best start in more than three decades. Remarkable, incredible and unbelievable are words players have used to describe the dominant, all-around team effort that’s carried them to a 10-0 record that’s the toast of the big leagues two weeks into the season.

        A new study finds that climate change is making major league sluggers into even hotter hitters, sending an extra 50 or so home runs a year over the fences. A study published Friday by Dartmouth College scientists did a statistical analysis of more than 200,000 balls put into play in the last few years. They say climate change added about 1% to the homer totals. 


        A major shift is coming to Major League Baseball, starting on opening day this Thursday. New rules are now in effect. There will be clocks at stadiums to hurry along pitchers and hitters, and there are restrictions on defensive shifts for fielders. The full slate of 15 games includes matchups at Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. 

        Major league pitchers and batters aren’t the only ones going on the clock this season. Big league broadcasters have also been using spring training to adjust to baseball’s new rhythm amid a series of rules changes. When the season opens Thursday, MLB will usher in an age of sharper, quicker and more concise commentary.

        The Cleveland Guardians are close to signing a long-term contract with All-Star second baseman Andrés Giménez. The 24-year-old batted .297 and won a Gold Glove for the AL Central champions last season. He could sign the deal within days, according to an AP source. The person added that the Guardians are also nearing a deal with reliever Trevor Stephan.

        Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was ejected Monday in a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays for an awkward ball exchange that followed a pitch-clock violation. The home plate umpire had just finished calling a ball on Phillies pitcher Craig Kimbrel for taking too long on the mound when the at-bat devolved into the bizarre ejection.

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