By Christopher Haft
Special to The Examiner
After amassing a franchise-record 107 victories to capture the National League West — “We needed every one of them,” manager Gabe Kapler said — the Giants must win only 11 more games to secure a World Series title.
Though the Giants’ success may have seemed repetitive at times, winning has not become automatic. Catcher Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford, two of San Francisco’s World Series-winning veterans, can confirm that postseason victories are more difficult to secure.
“When it comes down to the postseason, the intensity’s there no matter what,” said Posey, who slapped his 1,500th career hit during the Giants’ 11-4 triumph Sunday over San Diego that enabled them to finally secure their first division title since 2012.
The Giants should manage to summon the attitude they’ll need to cope with that intensity during the Division Series, which they’ll open at Oracle Park on Friday against the winner of Wednesday’s Wild Card game pitting the St. Louis Cardinals against Los Angeles Dodgers.
St. Louis spent September winning 19 of 20 games to surge to the Central Division title. The Giants outlasted the Cardinals in their last three postseason meetings: the 2002, 2012 and 2014 NL Championship Series.
The Dodgers need no introduction. As every baseball fan knows, the Dodgers have remained the Giants’ archrival since that word initially appeared in the dictionary.
The Giants and Dodgers have not met in the postseason since divisional play began in 1969. They did clash in two of the most storied three-game playoffs in baseball history, with the Giants winning both. There was 1951, which Bobby Thomson took care of, and 1962, which the Giants secured with a four-run, ninth-inning rally in Game 3.
Crawford knows what to expect from the Dodgers, who chased the Giants throughout the season’s second half. “I don’t feel any differently about them now than I did at the start of the year. They’re a really good team,” Crawford said.
A 40-1 preseason shot to win the NL West — the longest odds to land since 1958, the earliest year such information was available — the Giants are seeking greater glory, such as another World Series championship.
“Obviously,” Posey said, “that’s the goal.”
Christopher Haft is a longtime baseball scribe who covers the Giants for The Examiner