Long after All-Star closer Brian Wilson recorded the final out of the regular season with a typically overpowering strikeout, thousands of fans lingered outside AT&T Park waving orange towels, holding up celebratory posters, liberally giving out hugs and generally reveling in the warm embrace of their team’s triumphant win.
Sunday’s emotions might have been more sweet relief than overwhelming joy, but for the legions of exasperated Giants fans, the team’s postseason-clinching victory could not have come any other way.
Only needing one win heading into the weekend series against the San Diego Padres, The City’s cardiac kids naturally waited until the final day to break the team’s six-year postseason drought. For fans — who endured a season marked by close losses and roller-coaster winning and losing streaks — the heart-stopping 3-0 win over the Padres that won the National League West Division simply added one more chapter to a year packed with drama.
“It had to be like this,” said Jason Mendelson, 32, of San Francisco. “Losing the first two games, making us wait until the last day of the regular season. But hey, they got the job done, so the torture can abate for a few days.”
Tanner White, a 13-year-old Giants fan from Martinez, attended Saturday’s game with dad James only to leave disappointed with the team’s 4-2 defeat. Although he had some early doubts, Tanner said he knew the team would pull out a victory Sunday.
“Once they got those two runs, I felt a lot better,” Tanner said. “I’m really happy they were able to win today.”
Mendelson’s father, Lee, 77, has been a Giants season-ticket holder since the team played its home games at Seals Stadium, a venue that closed in 1959. He said Sunday’s victory was extremely satisfying, and he has high hopes for the Giants’ chances of capturing the World Series title for the first time since 1954, when they still played in New York.
“I really like our chances,” Lee Mendelson said. “We’ve got great pitching, and that makes all the difference in the postseason.”
The resiliency of Giants fans did not go unnoticed by the players, who credited the home crowd with spurring the team to victory.
“Basically, the entire crowd of fans propelled us to victory today,” said Wilson, who recorded his 48th save. “We couldn’t have done this without their support.”
Wilson and his teammates can count on more support Thursday when the team hosts a playoff game for the first time since 2003. The Giants face the Atlanta Braves in the best-of-five series.
“I’m definitely going to be there on Thursday night,” said Alexis Carroll, a law student in San Francisco. “I haven’t told my professor yet, but I plan on skipping class to make the game. I think he’ll understand.”
Making the playoffs
Postseason appearances by the Giants since 1958, their first season in San Francisco:
1962 Won National League pennant; lost to New York Yankees in World Series
1971 Won NL West Division title; lost to Pittsburgh Pirates in NL Championship Series
1987 Won NL West title; lost to St. Louis Cardinals in NLCS
1989 Won NL West title; beat Chicago Cubs in NLCS; lost to A’s in World Series
1997 Won NL West title; lost to Florida Marlins in NL Division Series
2000 Won NL West title; lost to New York Mets in NLDS
2002 Won NL wild card; beat Atlanta Braves in NLDS; beat St. Louis Cardinals in NLCS; lost to Anaheim Angels in World Series
2003 Won NL West title; lost to Florida Marlins in NLDS
2010 Won NL West title