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Red Sox-Braves Game Ends on Pitch Clock Violation Strikeout

Forget fans. Baseball's new rules are taking some getting used to for players, too.

Proof positive of this came during a Grapefruit League game between the Red Sox and Braves Saturday afternoon in North Port, Fla, which ended in a fashion only possible in 2023.

With the two teams locked in a 6-6 tie, two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and Boston pitcher Robert Kwiatkowski facing Atlanta second baseman Cal Conley, Kwiatkowski fell into a full count. 

Then, Conley did the rest of his job for him. The 2021 fourth-round draft pick was found in violation of MLB’s new pitch clock and was assessed an automatic strike that ended the game in a tie.

The rule, new in 2023 after a successful trial run in the minor leagues, stipulates that "batters must be in the box and alert to the pitcher by the 8-second mark or else be charged with an automatic strike."

Conley was not, and thus became a cautionary tale a day after Padres infielder Manny Machado became the rule's first casualty.