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Doval is lighting up the radar gun, but keeping his cool

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SAN DIEGO -- Gabe Kapler is as focused and forward-thinking during a game as it gets, but for a few moments on Tuesday night, he was just like any Giants fan at Petco Park. He kept allowing his eyes to drift to the radar gun readings on Camilo Doval's fastball. 

"He was throwing really hard," Kapler said a day later, smiling. "I mean, he's always throwing really hard, but he was throwing really, really hard."

Doval averaged 101 mph in that dominant relief outing and hit 102.5 mph. He threw seven pitches Tuesday that registered in triple digits, including three that were above 101 mph. Eye-popping velocity has become commonplace in today's game, but even by new standards, Doval is a standout. 

The lanky 24-year-old hit 104.5 mph in a Triple-A game earlier this year (Giants employees swear that mark was accurate) but had mostly sat 97-99 mph in his previous big league appearances. On Tuesday he became the ninth pitcher to reach 102 mph this season and the 13th to clear 101 mph at least three times this season.

When it comes to the Giants, Doval is in a much smaller class. Doval is just the fifth Giant to hit 101 mph since tracking began in 2008 and joined Brian Wilson as the only two to clear 102 mph.

But Doval showed in Wednesday's 8-6 win over the Padres that he is much more than a flamethrower. He was called on with the bases loaded, no outs and Manny Machado -- who has scalded just about everything in this series -- walking to the plate. Machado was surely expecting the heater. He got three straight sliders and struck out. 


Doval did hit 100 mph in the inning, opening Tommy Pham with a perfect fastball. But he went back to the slider to get Pham to hit into an inning-ending double play. Then he calmly walked off the mound, his face and body language not at all acknowledging that he had just recorded the biggest outs of his career. 

As much as the Giants are in love with that velocity and the slider, what really excites them about Doval is his demeanor. When Doval entered with the bases loaded, he was met by Kapler, catcher Buster Posey and coach Nick Ortiz, who interprets for Spanish-speaking pitchers. 

"There was some intensity on the mound, but coming from him was pure calm," Kapler said of Doval. "It's kind of who he is."

Kapler said Doval's outing was "one of the gutsier" ones of the season, and it continued what has been an eye-opening month. Doval was recalled from Triple-A on Sept. 5 and has thrown nine scoreless appearances since, allowing just three hits and striking out nine. He is showing the confidence and command of a closer, and of course, there's that fastball. That will always be there in a big spot. 

Doval admitted he was looking up at the scoreboard on Tuesday, too, although he certainly did a good job of hiding it.

"I saw the 101, 102, and that just encouraged me to attack and be aggressive," he said.

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That last part was the other thing that has stood out to Giants coaches in this series, which has started with two wins that have cut the magic number to nine. Doval threw 19 pitches on Tuesday and 16 of them were strikes. A night later, six of eight pitches found the zone. 

There is a long history of young relievers turning into October weapons seemingly out of nowhere, and Doval certainly has the look right now. Kapler sounds like someone who intends to use him that way, too. 

"I think the last couple of times out he's been as good as we've seen," he said. "Look, I think it's the right time to push Camilo a little bit and to ask for a lot of him. I think he's ready for that challenge. He's coming in pretty regularly saying he feels good and strong and I think that's encouraging. There's no better time for him to be feeling good."