The Boston Red Sox got their first taste of the new MLB pitch clock rules on Saturday, when their game against the Atlanta Braves ended in a 6-6 tie with an automatic strike call. The Red Sox had a 6-3 lead entering the bottom of the ninth, before the Braves proceeded to score 3 runs and loaded the bases with one out.
Red Sox pitcher Robert Kwiatkowski entered the game and struck out Tyler Tolve for the 2nd out. He battled with the next Braves batter, Cal Conley, as the count ran full... and that's when things got weird. Conley did not get set in the batter's box in-time, and an automatic strike was called.
The inning was over; the threat was over; the game was over. It was a bizarre situation, and it caught the attention of ESPN baseball columnist Jeff Passan.
It will be interesting to see if/how the new pitch timer rules will impact future Red Sox games. There is a 30-second timer between batters, a 15-second timer between pitches when the bases are empty, and a 20-second timer between pitches when any base is occupied.
If an infraction is committed by the pitcher or catcher, the result is an automatic ball; if the infraction is committed by the hitter, it results in an automatic strike.
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In other news, several Red Sox players had solid showings against the Braves. One was Bobby Dalbec; he went 2-2 with a home run and a double, notching 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored in the process.
Wilyer Abreu, who was (along with Enmanuel Valdez) acquired by the Red Sox in the Christian Vazquez trade at the Trade Deadline last season, hit a triple in his only at-bat of the day. Abreu, who is known for his speed, stole 31 bases (in 34 attempts) in AA last season.
Ryan Fitzgerald, who had a very impressive spring camp in 2022, went 1-2 with a double. He also shared his thoughts on the pitch clock last night via Twitter; he offers an interesting perspective on the topic since he played with the pitch clock last season as a member of the WooSox (AAA affiliate for the Red Sox).
Chris Sale did not play in Saturday's game, but he took another step towards starting the 2023 regular season fully healthy. It would be the first season he's been healthy on Opening Day since 2019. Sale threw live batting practice on Saturday, facing hitters for the first time since July 17, 2022.
According to MLB.com's Ian Browne, Sale was pleased with how he felt and the results. He threw 23 pitches, and the next step will be 2 innings of live BP (expected to be on Wednesday). If he continues to progress, Red Sox fans could see Chris Sale in a live game as early as March 4th.
And finally, a new update on the health status of Red Sox pitcher Brayan Bello was shared on Twitter by Ian Browne. Bello, who was shut down for a few days after experiencing forearm tightness on February 17th, has been working his way back to pitching off the mound. That milestone will be realized today.