Nationals closer Kyle Finnegan was called for the first game-ending violation in MLB history in Saturday's loss to the Rockies. Photo Credit: MASN. Nationals closer Kyle Finnegan is called for a game-ending pitch clock violation against the Rockies. Photo Credit: MASN.

Since Major League Baseball implemented the pitch clock in 2023, few pitchers have struggled with it more than Washington Nationals reliever Kyle Finnegan. And on Saturday night, Finnegan made unfortunate MLB history, as his issues with the pitch clock burned him at the worst possible time.

With Washington leading the Colorado Rockies 7-6. Finnegan was called upon to handle the bottom of the ninth. But, as often happens to pitchers at Coors Field, Finnegan found trouble. Hunter Goodman, Jake Cave and Brenton Doyle all singled off of Finnegan to start the inning, with Doyle’s single bringing Goodman home as the tying run. The next hitter, Ezequiel Tovar also singled. And while Tovar’s single didn’t drive the game-winning run, it loaded the bases for the next hitter, Ryan McMahon.

Finnegan quickly got ahead of McMahon, who fouled off both of the first two pitches he saw, bringing the count to 0-2. But McMahon worked a full count, taking three of the next four pitches he saw for balls and fouling off the other. Then, before Finnegan could deliver his 3-2 pitch, home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called him for a pitch clock violation. The penalty for that is a ball. In this case, that meant ball four and with the bases loaded, Cave came home as the winning run.

Finnegan is the first pitcher to have a game end as a direct result of a pitch clock violation.

As Bob Carpenter and Kevin Frandsen detailed on the MASN broadcast, there was no disputing the call. If anything, Finnegan got more slack than he should have.

In his postgame press conference, Nationals manager Dave Martinez made it clear that Finnegan has to be better at managing the pitch clock.

“I think he leads the league in violations,” Martinez said. “You’ve got to have some awareness. He could have stepped off. It’s a tough situation but it’s something that he’s got to be mindful of.”

“He’s just slow,” Martinez added. “That’s who he is. I mean, he’s the closer. It burnt him today, typically it hasn’t burnt him. It’s something, like I said, he’s got to be mindful of it.”

[Photo/Video Credit: MASN]

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