AP source: MLB will play 7-inning games in doubleheaders

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Rain falls during a rain delay prior to a baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Thursday, July 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

NEW YORK – Shortened season, shorter games.

Big league doubleheaders will now become a pair of seven-inning games, baseball’s latest radical rule change during a season reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

Major League Baseball and the players’ union reached agreement Thursday on the new twinbills, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

ESPN first reported the doubleheader deal.

Baseball is filled with examples going back more than 100 years of major league games being shortened on the fly because of weather, darkness or a team's travel schedule. But this is believed to be the first mandate across the sport to play games shorter than nine innings.

And, just wondering: As a result of abbreviated games, might the official rules be tweaked to permit a starting pitcher who throws four innings in a doubleheader get credit for a win?

MLB had already added designated hitters to National League games this year and added an automatic runner at second base to start all half-innings in extras. The free runner will take his spot in doubleheader games that are tied after the seventh.

The Cleveland Indians swept the Chicago White Sox earlier this week in the first doubleheader of the season. The new rule goes into effect Saturday for the rest of the season — the Toronto Blue Jays had been scheduled to play a twinbill in Philadelphia that day, but it was scrapped after two Phillies staffers tested positive for the virus.