Gausman’s heroics a sign of magical season

You know this is a special season when yesterday’s starting pitcher plays the part of the hero today.

Kevin Gausman, who pitched on Thursday against the San Diego Padres, came to the plate with a bat against the Atlanta Braves on Friday and hit a game-winning sacrifice fly ball to push the San Francisco Giants towards a 6-5 win in 11 innings.

Gausman has been the Giants’ All-Star ace all season but to win a game with his bat? That took the cake for him.

“Oh man, that was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my entire career,” Gausman said after the game. “When it was 3-2 and everybody stood up, it was probably one of the coolest moments of my life.

Throughout the season, the playoff race in the National League has gone through California. That was expected but was completely unexpected was the Giants, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016, surging from mediocrity to the best record in baseball.

San Francisco’s 96 wins puts the National League record of 108 wins (set by both the 1975 Reds and 1986 Mets) within reach with 14 games remaining in the regular season. One of the biggest reasons why the Giants have the best record in baseball is because they rarely go on losing streaks. No team has a better record than the Giants following a loss. The Giants are 35-17 the day after losing a game.

The Giants won their three World Series championships in 2010-14 on the backs of their elite pitching staff with minimal offense. This time around bats are carrying the loads. The Giants have hit 227 home runs this season, which is the most in team history post-Barry Bonds. The San Francisco legend set team highs in homers in 2001 (235). 

Donovan Solano hit the Giants’ 16th pinch-hit homer of the year, which has them one shy of matching the MLB record set by the 2016 Cardinals. The Giants have also homered in 12 straight games, which is a season high.

Branden Belt has been the Giants first baseman for a decade and not only has he finally crossed the 20-homer mark this season but it also four homers away from 30. Everything changed for him after the All-Star Game. He hit 15 home runs since the break and batting .328 in September.

Yet despite all of this magic, one thing that might be the most important factor is urgency. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the second best record in the National League and are two games back in the race for the NL West. The two teams don’t play each other until the playoffs, when they potentially meet in the NLDS.

About: Tony Capobianco

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Sports Kave senior writer and podcast host

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