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Tiebreaker rule in play for All-Stars

The Associated PressCLEVELAND (AP) — We’ve seen Reggie hit the light tower, Pete Rose crush a catcher to score the winning run and a tribute to Ted Williams that sent shivers through Fenway Park.

But come the All-Star Game on Tuesday, baseball fans might witness something they’ve never seen before.

Automatic runners.

Already employed in the minors, the World Baseball Classic and Olympic softball, a new rule will take effect in front of a major league audience: Every extra inning in All-Star play — top half and bottom — begins with a free runner at second base.

“They’re doing that? Really?” Houston reliever Ryan Pressly asked Monday. “I did not know that.”

The crowd at Progressive Field got a glimpse of the future, maybe, on Sunday night when the Futures Game tried the rule for an inning. No one scored, and the showcase for young talent wound up in a tie.

Jeff McNeil, the top hitter in the majors this year, saw the scenario a lot last season in Triple-A. There, the goal is to shorten games and save wear and tear on pitching staffs.

“Kind of weird,” McNeil observed.

Still, it could be real timely. The past two All-Star Games both went extras — Robinson Cano hit a leadoff shot in the 10th at Miami in 2017, Alex Bregman did the same last year in Washington.

Plus, there was the 15-inning affair at Yankee Stadium in 2008 and the dreaded 2002 game in Milwaukee that was declared a very unpopular tie after the 11th. Naturally, in a sport where change comes slowly, not everyone is thrilled with this experiment. To many, instant intentional walks, constant shifts and talk about robot umpires has skewed the game enough.

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