LOS ANGELES – With the Giants up for a run entering the bottom of the ninth inning, manager Gabe Kapler approached Camilo Doval in the dugout and asked the 24-year-old rookie if he was feeling well enough to go back to the mound and launch another episode.
Doval assured him that it was.
“I solve this, daddy,” Doval told him. “I’m ready”.
Doval did not disappoint, working a ninth act scoreless to seal a six-out save and the Giants 1-0 win over Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Division Series Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
Doval’s work ended the Giants’ second shutout of the Dodgers in this series, giving San Francisco a 2-1 lead in a five-cap match before Game 4 Tuesday night.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Doval became the fifth rookie to make a save of two or more innings in a postseason since that statistic became official in 1969. The last player to do so was Bobby Jenks for the White Sox in the SDLA of 2005.
“I’m super proud,” Doval said of the opportunity Kapler has given him. “I always thank him for giving me the opportunity to pitch when the game is like this, I love to pitch when the game is stuck. I get excited, I love it. Everything has gone well for me ”.
It’s been a meteoric rise for Doval, who hadn’t pitched higher than Class A before this season and spent last fall pitching in the instructional league in Arizona. Now the young flamethrower is getting the confidence to pitch in close playoff games for the Giants, who are just one win away from advancing to their first NL Championship Series since 2014.
“The fact that he basically came in and took on that role, and then did what he did tonight (Monday) is something very special,” third baseman Evan Longoria said. “For a young guy without a lot of major league experience, it’s impossible to downplay what he did, especially given the circumstances.”
Doval, a native of Yamasá, a small town north of Santo Domingo, made his debut for the Giants in April, but had a difficult debut in the majors. He struggled to control his 100+ fastball and made many mistakes with his slider, prompting the club to drop him to Triple-A Sacramento after he posted a 7.59 ERA in 13 games.
However, he remained optimistic despite being dropped to the minors, dedicating himself to improving control of his electrifying pitching arsenal.
“Work, work hard,” said Doval. “I worked on what I need. I always said, well, they took me down because I didn’t have, like who says, the nasty pitching like I have now. I focused on that, working with my slider, working on my straight, and thank God I have it ”.
The work is paying off now for Doval, who has been spectacular since returning to the Big Top on August 12. He finished the regular season pitching 16.1 scoreless innings, with 24 strikeouts in his last 16 games, and continued to dominate in his postseason debut on Friday, when he got the final three outs of the Giants’ 4-0 win in Game 1 in Oracle Park.
Monday’s was his toughest test yet, but Doval continued to show that natural calm as he took to the ridge under the bright lights of October. Called in to face the heart of the Dodgers’ offensive order, he proceeded to retire Trea Turner, Corey Seager and Justin Turner with just 15 pitches.
Since he had already used Tyler Rogers and Jake McGee earlier in the game, Kapler decided to stick with Doval in the ninth. The right-hander rewarded his manager’s confidence by dominating Chris Taylor with a fly ball, striking out AJ Pollock on three pitches and getting the last out after pinch-hitter Gavin Lux’s long fly to left for his first save in October.
“I think today (Monday) was particularly impressive, because it’s one thing to ask a guy to close big games without already having a long history of success, and it’s another to do what he did,” Kapler said. “He was certainly the right pitcher for that moment.”
“That he was successful first in the eighth inning and then coming out with that confidence and doing it again, I think this game was the most impressive of all,” Kapler finished on Doval.