Giants rally in 9th to complete sweep of Rox

Gausman's 11 K's, Crawford's knockout homer lift spirits after Belt's exit

September 27th, 2021

DENVER -- is recapturing his All-Star form at just the right time for the Giants. 

Gausman struck out 11 and fired six innings of one-run ball, and Tommy La Stella delivered a pinch-hit, go-ahead single in the ninth inning as the Giants rallied to beat the Rockies, 6-2, to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.

Games remaining: 6
Standings update: Two games ahead of the Dodgers for first place in the National League West
Magic number for division title: 5

The Giants (102-54) entered the ninth inning with the game tied, 2-2, but they regained the lead after Steven Duggar and Wilmer Flores each walked to set up La Stella’s two-strike hit off Daniel Bard. Brandon Crawford followed with the knockout blow, driving a misplaced fastball from Tyler Kinley out to left field for a three-run shot to cap the four-run inning and extend the Giants’ lead to 6-2.

San Francisco is the only team to sweep the Rockies at home this year, which it did twice to win six consecutive games at Coors Field for the first time in franchise history, according to Sportradar.

“They know how to play in their home ballpark better than anyone,” manager Gabe Kapler said of the Rockies. “Buster [Posey] actually mentioned it to me as he was coming off the field and wanted to make sure we recognized how difficult it is to win six straight games in this ballpark. It’s a huge accomplishment. This was a huge series for us.”

The Giants overcame the loss of first baseman Brandon Belt, who was forced to exit after being struck on the left hand while squaring up to bunt in the top of the seventh inning. An initial scan came back inconclusive, so Belt is expected to undergo X-rays when the team returns home to San Francisco.

It didn’t take long for the Giants to feel Belt’s absence, as the Rockies promptly rallied to tie the game following a sloppy defensive sequence from the Giants in the bottom of the seventh. José Álvarez gave up a single to C.J. Cron and then induced a routine grounder that Flores -- Belt’s replacement at first -- couldn’t handle, allowing Sam Hilliard to reach on an error.

Kapler subsequently brought in Zack Littell, who balked to put the two runners in scoring position with one out. The Rockies capitalized on the Giants’ miscues, as Elias Díaz knocked in Cron from third on a fielder’s choice to tie the game, 2-2.

Belt’s injury overshadowed an encouraging performance from Gausman, who allowed only three hits and walked none while inducing 25 whiffs, matching his career high from May 22, 2018, for the Oriolesagainst the White Sox. The lone blemish for Gausman came in the fifth, when he surrendered a solo home run to Cron that trimmed the Giants’ lead to 2-1. 

Gausman’s quality outing snapped the Giants’ streak of five consecutive games in which they’d gotten only four innings from their starters, providing a much-need blow to the club’s exhausted bullpen.

“I thought it was as good as Gausman’s looked in quite some time,” Kapler said. “The split had great action to it. It’s always tricky to get additional movement on a pitch here at Coors. Sometimes this ballpark tends to kill movement. His fastball had good carry through the zone. He threw a ton of strikes early on and established that he was going to attack the zone. I thought it was a good outing for Gaus.”

Gausman earned his first career All-Star selection following a spectacular first half this year, but he struggled to sustain that success in the second half and entered Sunday with a 5.04 ERA over his previous 13 starts. Still, the 30-year-old right-hander said he recently made a mechanical adjustment that he believes helped him get back on track Sunday.

“After watching video the last couple of weeks, I found something in my delivery,” Gausman said. “Going in today, I just tried to simplify things and get back to what I was doing earlier.”

The Giants will be counting on Gausman to sustain his dominance moving forward, as he is currently lined up to start a potential NL Wild Card Game and will be expected to anchor the club’s rotation heading into the postseason.

“I think today was a big step forward,” Gausman said. “I could just tell from the get-go that I was back to my normal self and back to when I was going good. Then the confidence just came back and I felt like I could throw any pitch whenever I needed to.”