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Doval is first Giant to record strikeout due to new MLB rule

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Camilo Doval threw the hardest pitch in Giants history last season. On Sunday, he made a much stranger kind of franchise history. 

Doval became the first Giant to truly benefit from the new MLB rules when Cincinnati Reds first baseman Alex McGarry was called out for failing to get into the box in time while leading off the third inning at Scottsdale Stadium. McGarry had fallen behind 0-2 and didn't get into place before the pitch clock got down to eight seconds. Home plate umpire Bill Miller raised both arms and signaled to the press box that it was a violation and strike three.

In the box score, McGarry went down as "strikes out on automatic strike." There was confusion in the crowd at first, and then cheers, but Doval said there was no doubt on the field. 

"I was paying attention to the clock, so I knew exactly what happened," Doval said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. 

Doval's inning was perhaps the best example yet that players will adjust to the new rules. Last year, Doval ranked 370th out of 399 qualified pitchers on Baseball Savant's tempo leaderboard, but he didn't have any violations in his spring debut and didn't come particularly close.

With a runner in scoring position, Doval threw several pitches with 10 seconds left on the 20-second clock. The closest he got to a violation was when he twice let the clock get down to three seconds, but that still left him plenty of time to deliver a pitch. Doval's final pitch of the inning came with three seconds left on the clock and a runner on third. It resulted in his third strikeout. 

 

Doval, who will leave for the WBC on March 6, said the early part of the spring is the best time for him to get used to the new rules. The biggest test, though, will come when the bright lights turn on.

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As the closer, Doval will be tasked with keeping the pace in the game's tightest moments, a far cry from the third inning on a Sunday in Scottsdale in late February. There is also some question about whether he can maintain his otherworldly velocity without as much time to recharge, but Doval smiled Sunday and said he doesn't anticipate that being an issue. He said he wants his velo to increase.

"We're going up all the time," Doval said. "Not going down."

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