Major League Baseball’s new pitch clock is being put on full display at spring training this year. In an effort to speed up the pace of play, the League passed a new rule for the clock back in September, which gives pitchers 15 seconds to get a pitch off when the bases are empty and 20 seconds to throw a pitch when there are runners on base. If they don’t, a ball is automatically added to the count.
But the rule doesn’t just apply to pitchers. A catcher needs to be ready to go with 10 seconds left on the cock, while the hitter has to be ready with eight seconds left. That second thing made headlines on Friday when Manny Machado got hit with an automatic strike, and on Saturday, we got our first game decided by an automatic strike. The Atlanta Braves and the Boston Red Sox were tied in the bottom of the ninth, 6-6, and Braves infielder Cal Conley was up at the plate with the bases loaded and a full count.
Unfortunately for Conley, the umpire ruled he was not set before the clock hit the 8-second mark, which meant he got hit with an automatic strike and the game ended.
Bottom of the ninth. Tie game. Bases loaded. Full count. The dream scenario. And … Cal Conley didn’t get set in the batter’s box with 8 seconds left on the pitch clock.
Umpire calls an automatic strike. At-bat over. Inning over. This is the new reality. pic.twitter.com/Bv5k2xJ06j
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 25, 2023
Of course, in a regular season game, this would just go to extra innings. Instead, Conley gets to forever be known as the first person to strike out in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and a full count because he took a little too long.