What we learned as Giants guarantee best MLB record at break originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
If you predicted the Giants would have the best record in the majors at the time of the All-Star break, congratulations, please collect your winnings.
Though San Francisco still has one more game to play before the break, a 10-4 blowout win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday guaranteed that will be the case. The Giants improved to 56-32 with the resounding victory, showcasing the balance of potent offense and dominant pitching that has brought them to this point.
The Giants wasted no time in providing starter Anthony DeSclafani with a lead, scoring three runs in the first inning and another five runs in the third. In putting up both crooked numbers, San Francisco capitalized on a Nationals' error -- and made it hurt.
The early offensive explosion was more than enough production for DeSclafani, who closed out what has been a phenomenal first half for him in fitting style. He allowed just three hits across six shutout innings while striking out six. He also provided a great sacrifice bunt that kept the line moving in third. The outing improved DeSclafani's record to 10-3 and lowered his season ERA to 2.68. He won't be pitching in the All-Star Game, but there's no question he's deserving.
Here are three more things to know from a crowd-pleaser at Oracle Park:
Bart off to good start
After being added to the Giants' taxi squad Friday when Buster Posey was placed on the 10-day IL, Joey Bart was in the lineup for the first time this season on Saturday, and he played a significant role in the win. The Giants' No. 2 prospect had been tearing it up in Triple-A, and though it was an incredibly small sample size, looked much more comfortable at the plate in the bigs than he did a season ago.
Batting seventh in the order, Bart didn't wait around. His first at-bat came with two outs and runners on first and second in the first inning, and on the first pitch he saw, Bart lined a 102.2 mph grounder through the legs of Nationals starter Jon Lester for an infield single. He came up again in the third and knocked a single to right field on the second pitch he saw for his first RBI of the season.
Posey should be ready to return at the beginning of the second-half schedule or soon after, and with Curt Casali recently finding a groove at the plate, Bart's time in the majors likely will be short-lived this time around. But clearly, he's not too far off.
Thairo Estrada went 4-for-5 at the plate Saturday with four singles and three RBI for the first four-hit game of his career. Ironically, the only one of his hits that didn't drive in a run -- which came off his bat at 81.2 mph -- was hit much harder than two that did.
In the first, Estrada came to the plate with the bases loaded and followed Bart's infield single with a soft dribbler down the third-base line that scored Darin Ruf to put San Francisco up 3-0. At 56.9 mph, it was the softest-hit ball in the entire game that went for a hit.
Then in the third, Estrada followed Bart's RBI single with what essentially turned out to be a swinging bunt that scored Brandon Crawford from third to make it 6-0. At 65.8 mph, it was the second-softest hit ball in the entire game that went for a hit.
Remember kids, power isn't everything.
Crawford stays scorching
With Posey on the 10-day IL and Kevin Gausman starting the first-half finale on Sunday, Brandon Crawford will be the Giants' lone representative who will actually play in the All-Star Game in Denver. And with the way he is heading into the break, he is leaving zero doubt that he belongs there.
Crawford entered Saturday's game having registered at least one hit in every Giants game in July. He continued that streak in the 10-4 win, going 3-for-3 at the plate with a 422-foot solo home run and a double. He scored twice and drove in three. The homer was his 18th of the season, which surpasses his entire 2020 total (17).
With Saturday's performance, Crawford improved to 17-for-32 (.531) this month and bumped up his slash line to .282/.359/.553. He hasn't just been the Giants' most valuable player thus far; he is on the shortlist for NL MVP, and deservingly so.