Conley's pitch clock violation ties the game between the Braves and the Red Sox
On Saturday, Atlanta Braves pitcher Cal Conley felt he had just won the game with a two-out, full-count, bases-loaded walk-off walk. He was walking towards first base with his bat still in hand when umpire John Libka rushed out from behind the plate and signalled strike three.
The match is over. Conley, who had evidently been expecting an automatic ball four, couldn't believe it. "Me?" he asked, pointing to himself. His teammates were astounded as well. The audience booed.
The penalty is an automatic strike, which resulted in a 6-6 draw at North Port, Florida. Kwiatkowski got the strikeout despite only throwing two legitimate strikes.
It was a considerably more dramatic moment than when San Diego Padres slugger Manny Machado became the first player to be called for an automatic strike in the bottom of the first inning against Seattle on Friday because he wasn't placed in the box in time.
Welcome to 2023, when baseball's new regulations aimed at increasing the pace of play are coming at everyone, especially the players.
The most dramatic event of the new pitch clock era occurred on the first full day of spring games, and it occurred in the most dramatic setting imaginable. Conley, who was facing Boston Red Sox reliever Robert Kwiatkowski, wasn't situated in the box and wasn't paying attention to the pitcher as the clock approached eight seconds.
One of the new rules aimed to quicken the pace of play is the pitch clock. Between hitters, players will have 30 seconds to restart play. Pitchers get 15 seconds between pitches if no one is on and 20 seconds if there is a baserunner. The pitcher must begin his delivery before the timer runs out. When the pitcher has the ball back, the catcher and hitter are in the circle surrounding home plate, and play is otherwise ready to commence, the clock restarts.