On the back of a clutch, all-around game from starter Logan Webb, and an outpouring of offense, the Giants clinched the National League West for the first time since 2012, defeating the San Diego Padres 11-4 in the final game of the regular season at Oracle Park on Sunday afternoon.
Their 107th victory of the season is the most by any Giants team in franchise history, surpassing the 1904 New York Giants, who won 106 of 158 games.
The San Francisco (107- 55) win over San Diego (79-83) punches their ticket to the National League Division Series starting Friday at Oracle Park, outlasting the second-place Dodgers in one of the most intense divisional races in recent baseball history.
On the milestone win, Giants manager Gabe Kapler answered back to preseason projections that ranked the Giants far from the top of the standings:
“We all knew what the projections were and what the industry thought of us as a club. There were some intangibles that those viewpoints and those projections failed to take into consideration. The first intangible is just toughness. We had so many points during this season where it would have been easy for us to quit and we never did. We battled back.”
In his final regular season start, Webb (W, 11-3, 3.03 ERA) cruised through seven innings and allowed six hits, four earned runs and zero walks while striking out eight. Through the first seven, Webb only allowed one earned run. The young right-hander has risen as one of the game’s most promising pitchers in the second half and finishes the season as a confident arm the Giants look to depend on in October.
On his outing, Webb said it ranked number one in terms of baseball moments in his career:
“I’ve been kind of preparing for this stage a little bit. I was super thankful to get the ball today. That’s the first thing Kap came up to me and said, he was like ‘you know, I’m really proud that you took the ball.'”
Webb even helped himself at the plate, notching the first hit of the game for either side against Padres starter Reiss Knehr (L, 1-2, 4.97 ERA). In the fifth he flexed his power, crushing his first Major League homer to add a pair of insurance runs. Webb, a known threat with the bat during batting practice, has been waiting patiently for the moment.
Webb exited in the eighth with runners at the corners and nobody out, departing with a tip of a cap to a monstrous ovation from the Oracle Park crowd.
On Webb’s outing, Kapler said:
“What we saw today on the biggest stage; I think he set the tone in the first inning at work, striking out the side and looking like he was going to pitch deep in the game. That’s exactly what we needed today. I think we as a group needed that boost of confidence coming off of yesterday’s loss, that somebody was going to kind of step up and say like, ‘climb on my back and I’ll do the work,’ and Logan really did that.”
In possibly his final regular season home game, Buster Posey electrified the Oracle Park crowd of 36,901 in the third with a hard single up the middle to bring home two runs and put San Francisco on top 2-0. In the five-run fourth, Posey lined another RBI single for his 1,500th career hit.
In 2010, Posey was a baby-faced 22-year-old rookie catcher in a clubhouse full of veterans as the Giants tried to chase their first championship in San Francisco history. Fast forward 11 seasons, and Posey is still contributing at a high level. In Game 162 against San Diego, Posey smashed a late-game homer to ensure a division-clinching win. In a career resurgence campaign, Posey – now 34 – is doing damage in every hitting category.
After his MVP season in 2012, Posey signed an eight-year extension with the Giants worth $167 million. The deal included a team option worth $22 million for 2022, a price that San Francisco’s front office would either try and work down for less money, or accept to bring him back another season.
On the tough assignment of clinching on the final game of the season, Posey said:
“It was a grind. It really was a grind. You think about winning 107 games you think that you’re gonna get to relax a little bit the last 10 days or so – at least – in the season. It makes it all the more special on the last day to play as well as we did on this last day.”
The five-run fourth inning began when reliever Dinelson Lamet (2-4, 4.40 ERA) walked Kris Bryant and Mike Yastrzemski to start the frame. Evan Longoria struck out, but Lamet walked Webb and surrendered an RBI single to Tommy La Stella. Wilmer Flores followed up by knocking a two-run double to left. LaMonte Wade Jr. roped a sacrifice fly to center to score La Stella and Posey singled home Flores to make it 7-1. In the seventh, Yastrzemski ripped a two-run double off the wall in left-center field to add extra padding and make it 11-1.
For the second straight game, Manny Machado added a sacrifice fly for the Padres, making it a one-run game in the fourth. The next time San Diego put pressure on the Giants offensively was the eighth, when they knocked Webb out of the game and rallied behind a pair of RBI singles from Victor Caratini and Trent Grisham.
Longoria continues to be a bit of a cold sore offensively and is now just 3-for-his-last-37, finishing the day as the only player in the Giants starting lineup without at least a base hit or a run batted in.
The Giants finish the regular season as one of the more improbable stories in baseball, entering Spring Training with the expectation that they would finish .500 or close to it. Instead, they’ve received unprecedented production from their veteran players, depth position players, cheaply assembled bullpen, a reclamation project of a rotation, and an inexperienced coaching staff.
In spring training, Kapler’s assessment of the team was a big unknown. When a group of older players came up with an ideal scenario, the club ran with it:
“At the outset of spring training, I was thinking about setting expectations for this group – what we could come to expect for the season. I knew we had a lot of talent, but I wasn’t sure. We have some veteran players who said we want to win the National league West. So at that point, this entire group surrounded that vision and made it a goal. We never came off that goal, and that’s why I feel that pride today in this group.”
Friday – Giants 3, Padres 0: Thanks to early runs in the first and lockdown pitching from Anthony DeSclafani (W, 13-7, 3.17 ERA), the Giants lowered their magic number to clinch the National League West to one game with a 3-0 win over the Padres. With 71 pitches, DeSclafani gave five innings while allowing four hits, zero earned runs, and striking out three. The bullpen took over from there with four pitchers combining for four scoreless frames. Darin Ruf helped the offense early with a screaming homer to left (16) followed by a Yastrzemski RBI single later in the inning. On the night he received the team’s honorable Willie Mac Award, Wade Jr. added some insurance in the sixth when his sacrifice fly to center made it 3-0.
Saturday – Padres 3, Giants 2: With a chance to control their own destiny and clinch the NL West win a win, San Francisco didn’t hit enough to give their pitching staff a win as they faltered in a ten-inning defeat. Kevin Gausman (14-6, 2.81 ERA) was outstanding through seven innings, working efficiently with only 84 pitches. After a mechanical adjustment in his last start, Gausman’s stuff was on display with San Diego hitters not able to barrel him up. Kapler turned to the bullpen in the eighth, going with righty Zack Littell (4-0, 2.92 ERA). With the Giants leading 2-1, Littell allowed a single and a double, followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Machado to knot it up at two. In the tenth with two runners on, Jake Cronenworth ripped a double to put San Diego up 3-2 and it would later turn out to be the game-winning hit. In the first, Bryant helped his cause by singling up the middle to drive home a run and put San Francisco out to an early lead. In the sixth, Austin Slater launched a solo homer (12) to break the 1-1 tie and add yet another pinch-hit homer to his resume.
The Giants will play their first postseason game since 2016 Friday at Oracle Park against the winner of the National League Wild Card Game; either the heavily favored Dodgers or the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals. In the coming days, the Giants will announce a Game 1 starter for the NLDS along with an entire 26-man roster.
Before the game, the Giants announced that righty Jay Jackson was recalled from Triple-A in favor or southpaw Sammy Long. … Jose Quintana cleared waivers and will head to Sacramento. … Oct. 3 has generally been a strong day in Giants history. In 2010, the Giants defeated the San Diego Padres on Game 162 to clinch the National League West. They later went on a deep postseason run, resulting in their first championship in the San Francisco era. Even further back in 1951 – 70 years ago – Bobby Thompson launched a pennant-winning homer to beat the Dodgers and secure themselves a spot in the World Series. … Sunday marked Ron Wotus‘ final regular season game on the Giants coaching staff. Wotus stepped down from a full-time position earlier this season. 2021 marks his 34th season with the organization.