The ninth inning of a Major League Baseball game can be one of the most exciting couple of minutes in sports. The majority of MLB's rules are the same in the ninth inning as they are in any other inning, but there are a handful of special rules that apply specifically to the ninth inning.
End of Game
The ninth inning is the final inning in a regular-length baseball game. If the road team is leading at the end of the ninth inning, the game is over and the road team wins. If the home team has the lead after the top of the ninth inning, the game is over and the home team wins; the bottom of the ninth will not be played. If the home team attains the lead during the bottom of the ninth inning, the game is over immediately and the home team wins. If the home team has the lead after the top of the ninth inning, the game is over and the home team wins; the bottom of the ninth will not be played.
If, at the end of nine full innings, the game is tied, it goes into extra innings. A game in extra innings ends when the road team leads at the end of an inning, or when the home team takes the lead.
When the home team is tied with the visiting team or trails the visiting team going into the bottom of the ninth inning, it is possible for the home team to get a walk-off win. Any win that comes in the home team's final at bat is classified as a walk-off win. Walk-off home runs are the most exciting type of walk-off win. Walk-off wins come in many varieties, including a hit that isn't a home run, a walk, a hit batsman, a balk or an error.
A save is when a relief pitcher closes out a tight game. Pitchers whose specific job is to get saves are called closers. If the closer is brought in in the ninth inning with his team ahead by three or fewer runs, he earns a save if he finishes the game in the ninth and his team wins. A pitcher can also get a save by being brought into a game with the potential tying run on base, at bat or on deck, and getting the final outs of the game before the other team ties or takes the lead.
Although not technically a rule, major league managers often bring in defensive replacements in the ninth inning of a baseball game. They replace weak defensive players with strong defensive players in order to increase the likelihood that a hit ball will get caught.
- Baseball Statistics: Glossary of Terms
- "Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball"; John Thorn, Pete Palmer, Michael Gershman and David Pietrusza; 1997
- Photo Credit baseball in the grass image by Richard Kane from Fotolia.com
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