Kyle Harrison

One-pitch approach propels Harrison, costs Doval in Giants' loss

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For eight innings on Tuesday night, it looked like the story in Philadelphia would be a young pitcher's desire to lean heavily on one overpowering pitch. That still ended up being the story when the ninth was over, but in a much more discouraging way for the Giants. 

Kyle Harrison pounded the zone with his fastball in his MLB debut, striking out some of the game's best hitters and showing why he has been viewed as the best young left-hander in the minors the last couple of seasons. In the ninth, closer Camilo Doval also pounded the zone with his fastball -- and the Phillies made him pay.

Doval threw 19 pitches but just one slider, and the Phillies scored two runs to storm back for a 4-3 win. Trea Turner saw five sinkers and a cutter, lining the final sinker off Doval's glove and up the middle to give the Phillies a come-from-behind victory and move them four games up in the wild-card standings. 

After the loss, manager Gabe Kapler mentioned something that Giants coaches have said several times in recent weeks. Doval, who has blown three consecutive saves, needs to do a better job of keeping hitters off balance by throwing all three of his pitches.

"We're not mixing enough," Kapler told reporters in Philadelphia. "That's part of the concern right now in the ninth inning."

Doval's one-track outing came on a night when Harrison rode his fastball to a very promising big league debut. Harrison gave up two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, but he struck out five, all coming against right-handed hitters and all on a fastball that averaged 95 mph and topped out at 97.6 mph.

Harrison threw his fastball 72 percent of the time, getting 11 swinging strikes and nine called strikes. J.T. Realmuto swung through the pitch three times and Turner did twice. 

"It's about as good as it gets," catcher Patrick Bailey said of the fastball. "About as good as it gets."

Harrison's low release and late life at the top of the zone overpowered the Phillies' right-handers, but he gave up five hits to lefties, including a two-run homer by Bryce Harper on a hanging slider. The Giants believe the splits are a fluke, as Harrison dominated lefties in the minors, and they much preferred to look at the late swings he got from righties. 

"It wasn't just major league hitters -- it was really good right-handed major league hitters that he was throwing the ball by," Kapler said. "You just don't see it very often. It's pretty unusual and a good signal of things to come."

Harrison mixed in 15 sliders, two changeups and one cutter. The changeup is a pitch he didn't throw often in the minors and the cutter was only just recently added to his repertoire, but over time Harrison pictures having a reliable four-pitch mix.

Doval has a three-pitch mix, but too often stays in the same lane. He shook Bailey often enough that Kapler, who rarely even approaches publicly criticizing a player, mentioned in his postgame interview that there's a need to trust the young catcher.

The Phillies caught on and caught up to the fastball, making Doval the first Giants closer since Armando Benitez in 2006 to blow three consecutive save opportunities.

"Camilo all year long, and even dating back a really long time, has been especially effective because he's mixing his pitches and throwing his slider," Kapler said. "I just think that was one thing that was challenging in that inning, among other things."

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