Rafael Devers on the wrong side of pitch clock history on Opening Day
BOSTON -- Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers made some MLB history on Thursday. Unfortunately for him and the Sox, Devers was on the wrong side of that history in Boston's Opening Day loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park.
Leading off the bottom of the eighth inning of Boston's 10-9 defeat, Devers became the first major leaguer to fall victim to an automatic strike call for violating the new pitch clock. Unfortunately for Devers, it led to a third strike, ending his at-bat.
According to the new rules, a batter has to be ready for the pitch -- or as it's worded, "attentive to the pitcher" -- with eight seconds left on the pitch timer. Devers was in the box when the clock struck :08, but he was looking down at his cleats and not set and ready to go. So home plate umpire Lance Barksdale rung up the Boston slugger.
The Red Sox were down 10-4 when Devers had to sit down for the violation. The team scored three runs to make it a 10-7 game, and then scored two more in the bottom of the ninth to make it interesting. Devers struck out in the bottom of the ninth the old fashioned way, with a swing and a miss.
After the 10-9 loss, Boston manager Alex Cora said there may have been some confusion on Devers' part when he was rung up in the eighth, since he had fouled off the previous pitch.
"Obviously he wasn't ready, but there's a few things we got towards the end of last week, [being able to reset after] pitches to the head or big swings," Cora said. "I thought he took a big swing the previous one, but there are no excuses. We know the rules, they know the rules."
Devers finished his day 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and those two strikeouts -- one swinging and one for taking too much time to get ready.
He wasn't the only batter to get hit with an automatic strike on baseball's inaugural day with a pitch clock, but he was the only one who had to sit down after it was assessed. Overall, 14 pitchers were assessed with pitch clock violations for taking too long between pitches on Thursday.
The pitch clock did help cutdown on game times across baseball on Thursday. The average game lasted two hours and 45 minutes, down from the three hours and 11 minutes for Opening Day games in 2022.
for more features.