It is done. The Giants, in the 162nd game of the year, have won the National League West division and are on their way to the playoffs. Seven years of misery and torture are finally over!
In many ways, I feel like this is a hard recap to write because I'm so uncontrollably excited, I don't really know what to say. We all figured that going into this weekend, needing just 1 game to go the playoffs, there was no way it wouldn't happen. But on Friday in game 1 of the series, we saw our best pitcher this year struggle while our offense could only score when it was too late. On Saturday, the much maligned Barry Zito was terrible, not even lasting 4 innings in his most important start of the year. But on Sunday, Jonathan Sanchez got it done and he was magnificent. Yes, this game was a classic Giants game: great pitching and just enough offense. It's fitting that the Giants would make us go through the torture til the very end.
Jonathan Sanchez's great start was huge and he more than likely pitched himself into the playoff rotation today. We don't know if the Giants are going to go with a 3 or 4 man rotation in the first round, but I don't think it matters. Up until yesterday's game, I thought the 3-man rotation would be Lincecum-Cain-Zito and the 4th starter would be a toss up between Sanchez and Bumgarner. But after seeing Sanchez come in and completely shut down the Padres' momentum today, he is the Giants' 3rd starter. Today he pitched 5 innings, allowing 3 H, 5 BB and striking out 5. Most importantly, he didn't allow a run. And we can't talk about the pitching without talking about the bullpen. That combination of Casilla, Ramirez, Lopez, Romo, and Wilson is pretty damn solid. It's going to be a huge weapon in the postseason.
Sanchez helped his own cause in the 3rd with a stand-up triple off of Mat Latos. Two batters later, Freddy Sanchez hit a groundball up the middle, scoring Sanchez. Immediately afterwards, Aubrey Huff drove a ball into the left-center gap, scoring the other Sanchez. It was a pretty big deal that the Giants finally scored first because it relieved some of the pressure. Figures that it took our pitcher to finally get something going. Buster Posey added an insurance run on a solo homer in the 8th, and everything else was taken care of.
Like I said, I don't feel like I can completely capture the greatness of the game. So I suggest that you go watch the game again, look at the celebration pictures, and watch Brian Wilson strike out Will Venable to end the game. Watching the swing and miss and seeing the whole team hop out of the dugout while Buster Posey runs to the mound to congratulate Brian Wilson should give you chills. It's amazing and hopefully it only gets better.
There are still plenty of questions that remain. Who is the 4th starter? What is the 25-man playoff roster going to look like? I'm sure we'll have a couple posts in the next few days addressing those issues. Just enjoy this feeling for the next 3 days. Game 1 is on TBS at 6:37 PM on Thursday. I already can't wait.
Oh, and Mat Latos is now on the Hate List. Haha.