How Donovan Walton became next position player pitcher

MIAMI — Holding a 15-3 lead Friday night with their go-to position player pitcher knocked out of the game, Giants manager Gabe Kapler was left to survey the dugout again to find someone to cover the ninth inning.

If not Luis González, apparently Donovan Walton is the Giants’ second option to pitch in blowout games.

“For me it really is about who wants to do this, without putting anybody at risk,” Kapler said. “Donnie wanted it.”

“Kap asked me and I said yeah, absolutely,” Walton said.

Both González and Walton have some credentials that lead to being natural candidates to step on the mound, even if it isn’t their primary job.

González pitched in college, at the University of New Mexico, and appeared in three games already this season for the Giants. But he left the game in the second inning after taking a fastball off his shin.

That left it up to Walton, whose dad, Rob, is the longtime pitching coach at Oklahoma State.

“I made him look bad,” Walton said. “He was laughing. He thought it was hilarious.”

Walton didn’t quite have the same initial success as González, who didn’t allow a run in his first two appearances, but he was nonetheless able to record three outs and end the game.

González gained notoriety for his looping 40-mph eephus-like pitches. Statcast wasn’t initially sure how to categorize them.

Walton tossed ’em up there even slower: two of them left his hand at 34 mph or below. In one outing, Walton tripled the number of pitches thrown in the majors this season below 40 mph. Of the 15 now to clock in below 40, Walton’s outing Friday night was responsible for 10 of them.

Hitting coach Dustin Lind gave Walton some motivation.

“Somebody bet me if I could get under 40. That was the goal,” Walton said. “It was Dustin. Just jokingly, not like there was any money involved.”

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