When is a ball four call not a ball four call? Take an identical pitcher and batter and an identical set of movements from both players. Each pitch is the same, each swing is the same and each step is the same. In 2022, that would result in a ball four call. In 2023, though, it was a third strike — and the revised pitch clock explains why.
As ESPN reports, the Atlanta Braves’ Cal Conley ended up with a third strike called on him in a Spring Training game against the Boston Red Sox. Red Sox pitcher Robert Kwiatkowski ended up earning a strikeout despite throwing two strikes — not a bad accomplishment.
That strikeout also ended the game with the score tied 6-6. Had Conley not spent eight seconds outside of the batters’ box, that pitch would have been ball four. Did we mention that the bases were loaded at the time? Because they were.
As was the case with Manny Machado getting a 0-1 call before he’d even faced a pitch, the issue here was a violation of the pitch clock rule as it applies to batters.
Watch Manny Machado Start Batting With a 0-1 CountA strange milestone for the Padres player
Major League Baseball intends for this year to be a period of adjustment for players and managers alike when it comes to the new rules, including the pitch clock. A moment like this certainly fits the bill of “learning experience.”