After holding their collective breath for three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Giants fans were able to mostly exhale Monday thanks to Kevin Gausman and the entire offense in the first of a three-game set at Coors Field.
The offense arrived early and often, powering the Giants to a 10-5 win against the Colorado Rockies. Gausman had one of his best starts in quite some time, and three different Giants -- Darin Ruf, Thairo Estrada and Buster Posey -- went deep, with Estrada homering twice. Brandon Crawford was the lone Giants starter to end the day without a hit.
Here's the only bad news: Thanks for nothing, Cardinals.
Max Scherzer led the way as the Los Angeles Dodgers took down the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 on the road. The Giants will come out of Labor Day still one game ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West standings.
From Gausman to the power display, here are three things to know as the Giants improved to 88-50 on the year.
Gausman, a Colorado native, was supposed to make his grand return home at the 2021 MLB All-Star Game. While he still took in the weekend, Gausman didn't pitch in the event after starting right before the break. He pitched twice at Coors Field last season, his first two starts ever in Colorado, and allowed five earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.
Monday was a warm welcome back as Gausman pitched seven strong innings. He allowed three earned runs, including two solo shots, which might as well be a shutout in Denver. Gausman walked just one batter and struck out nine. His 21 swinging strikes are the third-most by any pitcher this season at Coors.
Not only was Gausman going seven innings big for Gabe Kapler being able to save some arms in his bullpen, it also had to feel great for Gausman. This was the first time he completed seven innings since July 5, and his nine strikeouts were his most since July 11.
Gausman also helped himself at the plate, too. The left-handed hitter executed a perfect slash bunt for an RBI single in the top of the fourth, giving the Giants a 4-1 lead.
That's the way to get it done in front of the hometown crowd.
Not Your Typical Leadoff Hitter
Remember the leadoff hitters when you were young? You know, the fast lefty who could drag bunt and was just faster than everybody else at an early age. Yeah, that's not Ruf.
All 230-plus pounds of Ruf served as the Giants' leadoff hitter Monday, and the plan worked to perfection against lefty Kyle Freeland. Ruf finished the day 2-for-4 with a leadoff homer and his second triple of the year.
Ruf improved his batting average to a career-best .280, and his solo shot gave him a career-high 15 homers. Of all the surprise stories this season, Ruf doesn't receive enough attention. He now has nine homers off lefties and six against right-handers, giving Kapler a power bat at any moment.
Thairo Two Times
Speaking of surprise stories, whether it's in Sacramento or back with the big league team, it's hard not to like Estrada. The infielder gave Giants fans two more reasons to root for him again on Monday.
Estrada went deep twice in the win, giving him six homers on the season. He finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBI while batting sixth and starting at second base in his first game ever at Coors.
This was Estrada's first multi-homer game in the majors, and the Giants now have 13 games of at least four home runs, which ties their franchise record from 1954. The Giants now have 206 home runs on the year, which is fourth in franchise history.
They're now 30 long balls away from breaking the franchise record of 235, set by Barry Bonds and Co. in 2001.