The Giants have reached the MLB All-Star break, and can only hope to carry the same momentum coming out of it as they have going into it.
San Francisco put the finishing touches on a thoroughly impressive first half with a 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday, thereby completing the three-game sweep. The Giants improved to an MLB-best 57-32 with the victory, with at least two games separating them from everyone else in the pack.
Curt Casali provided all of the offense with a three-run blast in the bottom of the second inning, and the pitching staff did the rest. Kevin Gausman struck out nine and allowed just four hits through six shutout innings, but departed in the seventh with no outs and the bases loaded. However, Dominic Leone came on in relief and limited the damage to just one run. Tyler Rodgers pitched a clean eighth and Jake McGee notched the save.
Since he pitched Sunday, Gausman won't take the mound in Tuesday's All-Star Game in Denver, but he proved yet again why he otherwise deserved serious consideration to start it. He received a deafening standing ovation from the Oracle Park crowd as he walked off the mound, which was temporarily interrupted by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson's ill-received decision to check Gausman for foreign substances.
Gausman enters the All-Star break with a 9-3 record and 1.65 ERA. That won't be the last ovation he receives.
Casali's three-run shot was a continuation of the hot streak he has been on since returning from the injured list on June 12. After going 1-for-2 at the plate with two walks on Sunday, Casali is batting 17-for-42 with four homers over the last month. His slash line is up to .220/.336/.740, which has come a long way in a short amount of time.
Buster Posey is expected to return from the 10-day IL when the Giants return from the All-Star break or soon after, so the club likely will stick with the same rotation behind the plate between him and Casali. But with Casali recently providing premium offensive production for the position, San Francisco has the luxury of ensuring Posey doesn't take on too much of a load in the second half.
Tremendous pitching, with timely hitting from unexpected sources. It has been the Giants' story all season long, and was again on Sunday.