Hurdle's rare bullpen strategy key for Pirates down stretch

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Mark Melancon has had to step in to the closer's role for injured fellow All-Star Jason Grilli.

Mark Melancon has had to step in to the closer's role for injured fellow All-Star Jason Grilli.

One disclaimer: There are more extra-inning games this season, as a percentage of all games (10.5 percent), than any season since 1965 (11 percent). I've been telling you that a more equal distribution of talent and better pitching are making for more competitive games. All those extra innings lead to longer games. Still, the time of game for all nine-inning games this year is up by more than two minutes.