San Francisco Giants pitcher Kevin Gausman throws to the Washington Nationals line up on Sun Jul 11, 2021 at Oracle Park in San Francisco in the first inning. The contest was the finale of the three game series. (AP News photo)
By Jeremy Kahn
SAN FRANCISCO-Kevin Gausman may not have been able to pitch in the All-Star Game in hometown of Denver, but what a showing he put on in his final start of the first half.
Gausman went six innings, allowing one run on four hits, walking three and striking out nine and the San Francisco Giants completed a three-game sweep with a 3-1 victory over the Washington Nationals before a crowd of 26,639 at Oracle Park. With the victory, Gausman raised his record up to 9-3 on the season and lowered his earned run average from 1.74 to 1.65.
All the offense that the Giants needed came on one swing from Curt Casali, who launched a three-run home run into the Garden area beyond the center field wall in the bottom of the second inning.
Casali took a Erick Fedde pitch and planted it into the netting for his fourth home run of the season, and the Giants went into the All-Star break with the best record in baseball for the first time since the 2016 season and it is seventh time in team history that they have reached the All-Star break with the best record in the majors.
Since coming off the injured list last month, Casali is now 17-for-42 (.404) with four home runs during that stretch.
Brandon Crawford led off the inning with a single, and after Donovan Solano struck out for the first out of the inning, then Steven Duggar singled and then Casali hit his three-run home run.
Crawford continues to swing the bat well, as he went 3-for-4 on the afternoon, and picked up his fifth three plus game in his last eight games.
Fedde, who allowed the three runs in the bottom of the second inning, ended up going five innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, walking three and striking out and saw his record fall to 4-6 on the season.
The Nationals knocked Gausman out of the game in the top of the seventh inning, as both Juan Soto and Josh Bell walked to lead off the inning, then Starlin Castro singled to load the bases and Castro was the last batter that Gausman would face.
Dominic Leone came on to replace Gausman and got Josh Harrison to ground into a force play that scored Soto, but Leone then got pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman to fly out to Duggar in centerfield for the second out and then got out of the inning, when he got Victor Robles to strikeout for the final out of the inning.
Asides from scoring those three runs in the Giants wasted ample opportunities, as they put the first two runners of the inning on base in the bottom of the first inning and then again in the bottom of the third inning; however, Fedde was able to get out of the inning unscathed.
Tyler Rogers came on in the top of the eighth inning to replace Leone, and continues to be one of the best relievers in the National League during the first half, as he retired the Nationals in order.
Closer Jake McGee replaced Rogers in the top of the ninth inning, and picked up his 19th save, tying his career high that he obtained with the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2014 season.
McGee gave up a two-out double to Castro, but then got Harrison to line out to Solano to end the game.
NOTES: Caleb Baragar was recalled from Sacramento, while Tyler Beede was optioned back to Sacramento.
The Giants have now hit 132 home runs on the season, the most in the majors and lead the Toronto Blue Jays by two home runs, as they have hit 130 home runs on the season. This is just the third time since moving to San Francisco in 1958 that the Giants have led the majors in home runs at the All-Star break, they also led the majors in 1958 with 95 and then in 1989, when they went into the All-Star break with 80 home runs.
UP NEXT: Following the All-Star break, the Giants will fly to St. Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium that begins at Busch Stadium on Friday night. After the three-games in St. Louis, the Giants will head to Los Angeles, where they will face the Dodgers for a four-game series and this will be the final time that the Giants travel to Dodger Stadium during the 2021 regular season.