Braves-Red Sox spring training game ends in a tie after an automatic strike

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s spring training game between Boston and Atlanta ends in a tie thanks to new pitch clock rules

The new MLB rules, including the pitch clock, are going to take some getting used to.

Saturday’s spring training game between the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves is the perfect example.

It was the situation that every child growing up playing baseball dreams of. Game tied at 6, bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded and a 3-2 count. Atlanta infielder Cal Conley was at the plate, facing Boston relief pitcher Robert Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski started in for the sign from his catcher and came set to throw a critical pitch on a full count.

But then, this happened:

Conley was charged an automatic strike for not being ready in time under the new pitch clock rules, and the strike out was called.

Under spring training rules, there is no extra baseball, so the game ended in a 6-6 tie.

In the new rules introduced for this MLB season, batters are required to be in the batter’s box and “alert” with at least eight seconds remaining on the pitch clock. The pitch clock is not visible on this angle, but under the new rules, the home plate umpire is wearing a belt that buzzes to keep the umpire informed of the timing rules.

That buzzer must have gone off, because home plate umpire John Libka called the automatic strike, and the game ended in a tie.

Not … exactly how kids dreamed of that situation unfolding when playing in the backyard growing up, but this is the new normal in MLB. Thankfully everyone has spring training to get adjusted before this happens in the regular season.

Mercedes sees signs of ‘progress’ as three days of F1 pre-season testing draws to a close

Mercedes-Benz AG

The Silver Arrows see growth over three days in Bahrain, but concede there is more work to be done

With 2023 Formula 1 pre-season testing having drawn to a close, all ten teams will now pour over mounds of data ahead of the season’s first event, the Bahrain Grand Prix next week.

For Mercedes, the three days of testing offered “progress,” but the team concedes there is still work to be done.

Perhaps the main issue facing the Silver Arrows heading into the 2023 season was whether they had gotten the physics right. Last season saw Mercedes struggle with aerodynamics, with drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton battling “porpoising” on the track. While the team eventually solved those issues, the answers came too late in the season for Mercedes to mount a serious challenge in the Constructors’ Championship.

While the first day of testing in Bahrain led the team to believe those and other issues were truly in the rear-view mirror, that picture has become somewhat murkier over the past few days. However, according to Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin, they are close to where they need to be. “A fair bit of work took place overnight to find some refinements to the car specification and recover our direction on the setup. We do seem to have made progress; both drivers felt the car was in a much better place across the range of conditions today and the balance is closer to what they require on single lap and long run,” said Shovlin in a statement to the media released on Saturday.

He continued: “It’s clear that we still have work to do on car pace but today has given us a much more coherent picture of where we need to focus our efforts. We’ll be using the time ahead of next weekend to go through the data we’ve collected, and aim to extract a bit more lap time.”

Both drivers highlighted the progress the team had made over the past few days. For Russell, whose testing session on Friday was cut short due to the hydraulic issue suffered by the W14, there were still positive notes from the week. “We had a much more positive day today. We took a step forward and made progress with the issues we faced yesterday. I believe we have improved the car over the course of testing and got the W14 in a much better window today.”

Hamilton, who discussed lingering balancing issues prior to Saturday’s session — saying that “[s]ome of the balance limitations that we had last year are just present — struck a more positive note on Saturday. “It has been an interesting few days here in Bahrain,” said the Mercedes driver. “There has been a lot of discovery and the whole team has approached it with the same mentality, working hard, not being complacent and staying focused. We’re not quite where we want to be but it’s a good platform to start from.”

Both drivers also discussed the season-opening Grand Prix, slated for next week, and admitted there is some uncertainty about where Mercedes will stack up when the lap times count. “There is still plenty of work to do but we’re in better shape for next week with more to come,” said Russell on Saturday.

“We don’t know where we will be next week, but we will stay positive and continue to push to the maximum,” added Hamilton.