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NLDS loss stings, but Giants excited about Doval's future

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Camilo Doval

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you had told Gabe Kapler before Thursday's game that 30 of the 36 Dodgers hitters in Game 5 would face Logan Webb and Camilo Doval, he would have taken it. He would have been thrilled, and he likely would have thought he would end the night drenched in beer and champagne. 

With the season on the line, the Giants got another brilliant start from their 24-year-old ace, but their 24-year-old closer couldn't keep it going in the top of the ninth. Doval hit Justin Turner and then gave up two singles to Gavin Lux and Cody Bellinger, the latter of which drove Turner home.

The deciding run in Game 5 was the first scored off Doval since he returned to the big leagues on Sept. 5, but there was no blame in the Giants clubhouse. Webb was among the first to approach Doval. 

"Oh man, the first thing I did was I went in and gave him a hug, just because he feels awful," Webb said. "It's kind of brutal because he pitched so (well) for us. He did so well, and for that to happen, for him to be the guy who gave up the run, it just, it just sucks."

Doval had been flawless since returning to the big leagues. He had a scoreless September, taking NL Reliever of the Month honors and the closing job in a deep bullpen. He pitched three hitless innings to take the two Giants wins in the series to the finish line, but the Dodgers, who had concerns before the series about their lack of knowledge about Doval, finally got to him.

 

When Doval looks back at the outing, it will be clear what went wrong. He went away from his 100 mph fastball, which he used to end the eighth on one pitch. A heater badly missed its target to plunk Turner and Lux bounced a second one to right to put two runners on. When Doval got in trouble early in the year, it was often because he lost trust in his fastball. In the biggest moment Friday, Bellinger lined a fourth straight slider into the outfield for the winning run.

"You just kind of try to read the situation," catcher Buster Posey said. "(Bellinger) had been on a fastball from (Dominic Leone) in that first game and he hit a double off the wall in left-center. Camilo's slider can be pretty devastating. That one stayed up a little bit there."

Posey said Doval should leave this season feeling proud that the Giants trusted him enough to put him in that situation as a rookie. "It's no secret that he's got a bright future ahead of him," he said. 

That should start with Doval being lined up as the closer at the start of 2022. There might be some growing pains, but there's no doubt that he has the stuff and the temperament to be one of the best relievers in the game. In one of the most intense games in franchise history, Doval once again seemed unbothered by the moment. 

Doval also showed the kind of accountability that teammates appreciate from closers. He walked back to the dugout 20 minutes after the loss and answered every question, including several about his pitch sequencing. Doval said he was looking for a strikeout from Bellinger early in the matchup and then was trying to get a double play with the slider.

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"He hit it, and he hit it where there was nobody there," he said. 

There will be other matchups with these Dodgers, particularly Lux and Bellinger. The Giants want Webb to be starting as many of them as possible, and the ace knows who he wants getting the ball to close it out. 

"He's going to be a big part of this team for a long time and I think that's the first thing he needs to know, is how big a part of the team that he's going to be in the future, and to not let that get his confidence down because it's crazy to see how calm he is when he comes in the game," Webb said of Doval. "I don't think that's going to change, but I hope this doesn't get him down at all."

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