SF Giants clinch NL West pennant with 8-4 win over Padres
Postseason baseball is returning to at least one side of the Bay Area this year.
The San Francisco Giants clinched the National League Western Division pennant in front of their home fans with a 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres Saturday night.
The win — coupled with a 6-0 shutout of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers by the NL Central-champion Cincinnati Reds — gave the G-men their second NL West title in three years.
The Giants went into Saturday night’s game against the San Diego Padres knowing that, because the 2nd-place Dodgers had lost, a win would be enough to secure the division title and playoff spot — and wasted no time in jumping out ahead.
After the Padres jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st, the Giants responded in the bottom half of the inning, with sacrifice flies from Buster Posey and Hunter Pence scoring Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro.
The Giants then piled on the runs through small ball. After pitcher Madison Bumgarner singled home Brandon Belt in the bottom of the 2nd, the Giants blew the game open with two runs in the 4th courtesy of a walk, infield single, bunt, and bloop single to shallow center.
That 5-1 lead proved to be enough for Bumgarner, who wasn’t at his sharpest — chased after 5 2/3 innings by a 2-run home run from Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso — but was good enough to cool down a San Diego team which had come into town having won 7 of its last 10 games.
And the Giants offense had a response ready every time the Padres struck, following the 6th inning homer with two more runs off small ball, and countering an 8th inning Padres run with a solo home run from Belt.
Giants relievers Guillermo Mota, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo — part of a bullpen which has performed admirably despite the early loss of closer Brian Wilson to injury — finished off the game, allowing one run over the final 3 1/3 innings.
The clinching win — coming with 10 games to go in the regular season — caps a remarkable run by a team which just a few weeks ago looked to be in a fight to the finish with the hated Dodgers. A blockbuster trade by the Dodgers bringing in high-priced talent for the stretch drive and the loss of leading Giants hitter Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension for steroid use had pundits wondering whether the Giants could hold on in September.
But the Giants responded by going on a 15-5 tear in September while the Dodgers stumbled, allowing San Francisco to open up a massive lead in the NL West which, by the weekend, meant the question was not if the Giants would win the division, but when.
And unlike 2010 — when the Giants needed all 162 games to clinch the division title — the 2012 edition of the team took its first opportunity to secure its postseason spot.
The 2012 Giants will want to emulate the 2010 team in at least one respect, though — the 2010 Giants went from the NL West title to their first World Series pennant in San Francisco.
The Giants might not be the only Bay Area team playing October baseball this year, either. The Oakland A’s, despite losing 10-9 to the New York Yankees in extra innings Saturday, hold a 2 1/2 game lead for the second AL wild card spot and control their own destiny in the race for the postseason.
Contact California Beat Sports Director Steven Luo at firstname.lastname@example.org.