In baseball, softball, and similar games, an inning is the basic unit of play, consisting of two halves or frames,the "top" (first half) and the "bottom" (second half). In each half, one team bats until three outs are made, with the other team playing defense. A full baseball game is typically scheduled for nine innings, while softball games consist of seven innings; although this may be shortened due to weather or extended if the score is tied at the end of the scheduled innings. The use of the term inning in baseball and softball contrasts with cricket and rounders, in which the term is innings in both singular and plural.
Each half-inning formally starts when the umpire calls "Play" or "Play ball". A full inning consists of six outs, three for each team; and, in Major League Baseball and most other adult leagues, a regulation game consists of nine innings. The visiting team bats in the first half-inning, the top of the inning, derived from the position of the visiting team at the top line of a baseball line score. The home team's half of an inning is the bottom of the inning, and the break between halves of an inning is the middle of the inning. If the home team is leading in the middle of the final scheduled inning, or scores to take the lead in the bottom of the final scheduled inning, the game immediately ends in a home victory.
In most leagues, if the score is tied after the final scheduled inning, the game goes into extra innings until an inning ends with one team ahead of the other. In Japanese baseball, however, games end if tied after 12 innings (or, in postseason play in Nippon Professional Baseball, 15 innings). For the 2011 and 2012 NPB season, a game also ended in a tie if a regular-season game has reached its 3-hour, 30-minute time limit, and both teams are tied. As in the case of the ninth inning, a home team which scores to take a lead in any extra inning automatically wins, and the inning (and the game) is considered complete at that moment regardless of the number of outs. This is commonly referred to as a "walk-off" situation since the last play results in the teams walking off the field because the game is over. However, road teams can't earn a "walk-off" victory by scoring the go-ahead run in extra innings, unlike in ice hockey where the team (either home or away) scoring first in overtime automatically wins.
A baseball game can be shorter than scheduled innings if it is interrupted by rain (or other bad weather). Such a game called a rain out, is often preceded by a rain delay, a pause in the game during which the umpires will try to determine if the weather will allow the game to continue. If so, the game will simply be delayed until the rain stops, and then play will resume. If not, the umpires will announce a rainout and play will be suspended for the day. The game may have to be replayed in its entirety at a later date, but under certain circumstances, a game shortened because of rain can count as an official game, and the team that was ahead at the time the game was called will be awarded the win. See the article on rainout (sports) for further details.
Professional baseball gamesas well as college baseball games are scheduled for nine innings. Softball games and high school baseball games are scheduled for seven innings, as are some minor league baseball doubleheaders and, since the 2020 season, all Major League Baseball doubleheaders. College games may be shortened to seven innings if one team's score is ahead by a minimum of ten runs. Little League games are scheduled for six innings and may be shortened further (auto-forfeit) if a team has an overwhelming scoring lead.
Ending a half-inning is referred to as "retiring the side". A half-inning in which all batters are put out without taking a base is referred to as a "one-two-three inning". The number of innings a pitcher is in a game is measured by the innings pitched statistic.
In US English, baseball terminology is sometimes found in non-sports usage in a tense situation: "it's the bottom of the ninth [inning]" (sometimes adding, "with two outs"), meaning "there isn't much time to turn things around here".
While inning is the standard baseball term, there is at least one literary instance, of innings being used in a baseball context. This occurs in the story "Baseball Hattie" by Damon Runyon, who refers to the seventh innings of a Phillies-Giants game.
A mercy rule, slaughter rule, knockout rule, or skunk rule ends a two-competitor sports competition earlier than the scheduled endpoint if one competitor has a very large and presumably insurmountable scoring lead over the other. It is called the mercy rule because it spares further humiliation for the loser. It is common in youth sports in North America, where running up the score is considered unsporting. It is especially common in baseball and softball in which there is no game clock and a dominant team could in theory continue an inning endlessly.
In baseball, a no-hitter is a game in which a team was not able to record a single hit through conventional means. Major League Baseball (MLB) officially defines a no-hitter as a completed game in which a team that batted in at least nine innings recorded no hits. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter". In most cases, no-hitters are recorded by a single pitcher who throws a complete game; one thrown by two or more pitchers is a combined no-hitter.
Extra innings is the extension of a baseball or softball game in order to break a tie.
The rules of baseball differ slightly from league to league, but in general share the same basic game play.
In rare cases, baseball games are forfeited, usually when a team is no longer able to play. In the event of forfeiture, the score is recorded as 9–0, as stated in rule 2.00 of the Major League Baseball Rules Book. The 9–0 score equates to the number of innings in a regulation game. Actual game statistics are recorded as they stand at the time of the forfeit; the game is recorded as a loss in the standings for the forfeiting team and a win for the other team, even if the forfeiting team is ahead at that point.
Rainout, washout, rain delay, and rain stopped play are terms regarding an outdoor event, generally a sporting event, delayed or canceled due to rain, or the threat of rain. It is not to be confused with a type of out in baseball, though a baseball game can be rained out. Delays due to other forms of weather are named "snow delay", "lightning delay", "thunderstorm delay", or "fog delay", while there are many other effects of weather on sport. Also, a night game can be delayed if the floodlight system fails. Often spectators will be issued a ticket for a make up event, known as a "rain check".
A doubleheader is a set of two baseball games played between the same two teams on the same day in front of the same crowd. In addition, the term is often used unofficially to refer to a pair of games played by a team in a single day, but in front of different crowds and not in immediate succession.
In baseball, an official game is a game where nine innings have been played, except when the game is scheduled with fewer innings, extra innings are required to determine a winner, or the game must be stopped before nine innings have been played, e.g. due to inclement weather. The terms "official game" and "regulation game" are mainly used in the context of a game that is stopped before nine innings have been played, though it has been used for other promotional purposes.
A suspended game in baseball occurs when a game has to be stopped before it can be completed, and the game is meant to be finished at a later time or date. Suspended games are used in Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, and may also be used at other levels of play depending on league or tournament rules.
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