Wood, Doval debut, dazzle in shutout

April 18th, 2021

Left-hander didn’t disappoint in his 2021 debut with the Giants. Neither did relief prospect .

After missing the first two weeks of the regular season with a lower back strain, Wood came off the injured list to fire five scoreless innings as the Giants avoided a sweep with a 1-0 shutout of the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at IoanDepot park.

Doval, the Giants’ No. 24 prospect, helped lock down the narrow victory, coming in to work a 1-2-3 seventh inning in his Major League debut. The 23-year-old right-hander hadn’t pitched above Class A Advanced San Jose, but he calmly retired the heart of the Marlins’ lineup in order, striking out Jesús Aguilar and Adam Duvall and inducing a groundout from Garrett Cooper to preserve the Giants’ one-run lead.

“He’s got a special arm, no doubt,” Wood said. “It was nice to get him in there and get his feet wet. Getting thrown right into the fire in a 1-0 ballgame. He looked great. It’s going to be exciting to have him in the back-end of our bullpen moving forward.”

José Álvarez, Doval, Caleb Baragar and Tyler Rogers combined to pitch four hitless innings behind Wood to secure the Giants’ third shutout victory of the season, all of which have been caught by Curt Casali. With closer Jake McGee on the injured list due to side effects from his second COVID-19 vaccine, Rogers was tapped to pitch the ninth and tossed a clean inning to pick up his first save of the year.

Alex Dickerson accounted for the lone run of the afternoon, delivering an RBI single off Marlins right-hander Pablo López in the third inning.

Wood joined the Giants on a one-year, $3 million deal over the offseason and was projected to open the season in the starting rotation, but he ended up on the IL after undergoing an ablation procedure to alleviate stiffness in his lower back last month. He made two rehab starts at the Giants’ alternate training site to build his arm back up before slotting in as the rotation’s lone lefty.

Wood gave up back-to-back singles to start the first inning, but he retired the next 12 batters he faced before Brian Anderson reached on a throwing error by Brandon Belt with one out in the fifth. Jazz Chisholm Jr. followed with a single to left, but he was thrown out by Dickerson after coming off the bag on the slide into second base. Wood then coaxed a groundout from Chad Wallach to cap his strong outing.

Wood received another assist from his defense in the third, when Austin Slater made a terrific diving catch in the left-center-field gap to rob López of extra bases.

“I think what Wood does very well is he’s funky, unorthodox, works fast, pounds the strike zone and executes three pitches,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He was able to do that effectively today and keep those right-handed bangers off balance, which is a really difficult thing to do.”

Wood held the Marlins to three hits and threw only 61 pitches, but Kapler opted to pinch-hit for the 30-year-old veteran when the pitcher’s spot came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth.

Wilmer Flores came off the bench to face López and try to give the Giants additional breathing room, but he flew out to right field to end the inning.

“I felt really good,” Wood said. “In my rehab starts and in my bullpens, I felt like I’ve really been throwing the ball well. Commanding the ball on both sides of the plate. I thought my slider was really good today. It was a good start. It was the first time I’ve gone five innings. It was only my third real game as far as rehab to back in the big leagues. I felt great about it. Any time there’s zeros on the board, no matter how you get there, that’s always a positive.”

Álvarez pitched a scoreless sixth before giving way to Doval, who made an immediate impression by striking out Aguilar on three pitches to start the seventh. The Marlins’ first baseman couldn’t hide his frustration, letting out an audible expletive following his at-bat.

Doval, who topped out at 98.3 mph and showed off his nasty slider, later grinned when he repeated Aguilar’s reaction during a postgame Zoom call with reporters. He flashed the same ebullient smile when he returned to the Giants’ dugout after completing his electric 11-pitch outing.

“It was a great feeling,” Doval said in Spanish. “I was really happy. Everyone congratulated me and hugged me. I’m thankful that the Giants gave me the opportunity and trusted me in that spot.”