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What we learned as Giants sweep Rockies, win 102nd game

NBC Sports
Tommy La Stella

​DENVER -- The Giants lost one Brandon on Sunday, but the other was more than happy to pick up the slack.

Brandon Belt was removed with an apparent left hand injury on Sunday at Coors Field but Brandon Crawford helped the Giants pull away for a 6-2 win over the Colorado Rockies. After Tommy La Stella's pinch-hit single gave the Giants the lead in the top of the ninth, Crawford broke it open with a three-run shot. 

The win clinched a second consecutive sweep at Coors Field for the Giants, who have their first ever six-game winning streak at the ballpark. They finished 15-3 against the Rockies this season, which is the most wins the Giants have had against a single opponent since they went 15-3 against the Astros way back in 1965. 

While Crawford was the star late, Kevin Gausman led the way most of the afternoon. Gausman was absolutely cruising until the fifth, when C.J. Cron -- a hitter the Giants have tried to gameplan around every time they see the Rockies -- hit a 452 bomb to left-center. That was it for the Rockies against Gausman, though. He allowed just three hits in six innings and struck out 11. Of Gausman's 90 pitches, 63 were strikes. 

The bullpen once again held it down from there, and the Giants lowered their magic number to win the NL West to five. 

Welcome Back, Splitter 

Gausman has been searching for the feel of his go-to pitch for months, which is why Sunday's outing was so encouraging as the playoffs approach. Gausman recorded 25 swinging strikes, including 13 with his splitter.

 

That's a season-high for the Giants, breaking Gausman's mark of 20 against the Marlins on April 24. That also ties Gausman's career-high. Gausman now has eight of the top 10 swing-and-miss games by a Giants pitcher this year, pretty impressive given how good this staff has been.

The final whiff came in a huge spot. With runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth, Gausman was likely facing his last batter in Trevor Story. He threw one last nasty splitter that Story waved at and then screamed a couple of times as he strutted off the mound. 

Gausman also recorded his 10th hit when Story couldn't snag a grounder to the right side. He's the first Giants pitcher to reach double digits since the great Ty Blach had seven singles, two doubles and a homer in 2017. All of Gausman's hits have been singles 

Another Career-High

Crawford got the Giants on the board in the top of the third with a groundout to second with runners on the corners. That was the 85th run driven in by Crawford this season, a career-high. Crawford had 84 RBI in 2015 and 2016. Of course, he later added three more.

Crawford also has a career-high 23 homers. He's on track to set -- and shatter in most cases -- his previous bests in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Crawford has never previously hit above .275 in a season but he's currently at .302. 

Budding Star

Camilo Doval has had a huge month, and he might have had the best performance of his young career in the bottom of the eighth. Doval entered in a 2-2 game and struck out Brendan Rodgers, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story. All three in the heart of the Rockies' lineup went down swinging. 

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Doval has pitched in 11 games since getting recalled Sept. 5 and has yet to allow a run. He's given up just four hits in 10 1/3 innings this month with 13 strikeouts. He's going to be a big, big part of the mix in October. 

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