TAMPA — The minor leagues' new extra innings rule led to a bizarre victory for the Clearwater Threshers on Monday night.
The Philadelphia Phillies' Class A affiliate had no hits and no walks against the Tampa Tarpons, yet it beat the New York Yankees' Florida State League club 1-0.
Clearwater took advantage of a rule introduced this year that places a runner at second base at the start of each extra inning to cut down on marathon games. The rule has been criticized by baseball traditionalists. On Monday, it made it possible for Tampa to lose despite a nearly perfect game.
Yankees prospect Deivi Garcia opened with seven perfect innings in a scheduled seven-inning game, but the scoreless contest went to the eighth.
Christian Morris replaced Garcia for the eighth, and Clearwater automatic runner Luke Williams quickly went from second to third when shortstop Diego Castillo dropped the ball during a rundown. Two batters later, Williams scored on Daniel Brito's groundout to first.
Tampa went down in order in the bottom of the eighth. It was the first time a Florida State League team lost a no-hitter since Scott Backum of Winter Haven fell to Clearwater on Aug. 23, 1992.
The extra innings rule is part of Commissioner Rob Manfred's initiatives to boost the pace of play. Manfred has said the rule is unlikely to be implemented in the majors.