Giants clinch a playoff berth: It’s the earliest date ever

‘It’s an accomplishment to make the playoffs. It’s not our ultimate goal’

By Chris Haft

Special to The Examiner

Brandon Crawford saw no reason to overanalyze the Giants’ monumental success.

“I don’t think there’s one secret ingredient,” San Francisco’s All-Star shortstop said. “We’ve done a good job of playing good, quality baseball, whether it’s from the offensive side, the pitching side or the defensive side.”

San Francisco broke no stride at all to cross the finish line as the Major Leagues’ first team to clinch a postseason spot, the earliest date to earn a postseason spot in the Giants’ history. With a 9-1 victory Monday over the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park, and a 6-1 triumph Tuesday, the Giants (95-50) simply maintained the style that has turned them into baseball’s winningest ballclub. They extended their winning streak to a season-high nine games, propelled by home runs from Tommy LaStella, Evan Longoria, Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt. Eschewing the need for a starting pitcher, the Giants seven-hit the Padres with a cadre of seven relievers.

The Giants (94-50) must finish 14-4 in their remaining 18 regular-season games to match the 1975 Cincinnati Reds and the 1986 New York Mets to tie the National League’s highest victory total since division play began in 1969.

Next up for the West-leading Giants: A spot in the best-of-five Division Series against a Wild Card Game winner, if they can outlast the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers to win the division. Los Angeles trails the Giants by 2 1/2 games. At the very least, the Giants will confront a NL Wild Card qualifier in a one-game showdown during the first week of October.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler expressed confidence in the team’s ability to remain focused on staying ahead of the Dodgers.

“I think our players have talked about that recently, about keeping their foot on the gas,” Kapler said. “I think you can be both measured and calm and very in the moment and be looking to push the accelerator, always. I don’t think you have to be one or the other.”

The Giants celebrated their first postseason appearance since 2016 in time-honored fashion: By dousing each other with Champagne and beer in their clubhouse. The hoopla was muted, mainly because they haven’t yet achieved anything truly significant.

“It’s an accomplishment to make the playoffs. It’s not our ultimate goal,” said Crawford, leaving more desirable objectives such as the NLCS and the World Series unspoken.

“We all know what the end goal is here,” said catcher Buster Posey, the lone remaining member of the World Series-winning Giants teams of 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Kapler, in his second season of managing the Giants, planned on allowing players and coaches to adjust the volume on their postgame fun.

“I want to encourage our players to be themselves and I want to encourage our staff to be themselves,” Kapler said. “Everybody celebrates a little bit differently. There are some who want to have every opportunity to blow off some steam and celebrate and reflect. And there are others who prefer to take every step as kind of one in the process and I respect both ways. I don’t think that we have to manufacture anything. We can follow the lead of our players and our staff.”

Overall, they still had fun.

“I forgot how much this (Champagne) burns to get in your eyes,” Belt said. “But it feels good.”

Chris Haft is a longtime baseball scribe who covers the Giants for The Examiner.

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