AT&T PARK — Down the hallway from the clubhouse, where his players were busy splashing beer and champagne around the room as the music blared, Bruce Bochy was in his office, reclining in the executive chair behind his desk, looking as relaxed as he had in months.
“All you want is a shot,” the San Francisco Giants manager said.
The Giants got that shot — for the fourth time in seven seasons — by sweeping aside the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday afternoon to set up a wild-card game showdown with the New York Mets on Wednesday.
“They found their game at the right time,” Bochy said of his team, which won the final four games of the season. “We couldn’t afford to lose another game. I mean, there’s no margin of error and they all stepped up.”
In the 3-0 win over the Dodgers, Matt Moore delivered eight innings of one-run ball while striking out six. Just minutes before Moore took the mound for the regular season finale, the face of Vin Scully appeared on the giant video board, high above the wall in center field.
“Hi everybody and a very pleasant afternoon to you wherever you may be,” Scully said, offering his famous introduction in a pre-recorded message, one last time.
On a day that ended with the Giants celebrating in the clubhouse, that was the start of an afternoon-long tribute to the legendary broadcaster who was making the final call of his 67-year career.
Willie Mays joined Scully in his booth after the fourth inning and the entire stadium serenaded him as “Take Me out to the Ballgame” played during the seventh-inning stretch.
By that point, the Giants had long since chased Kenta Maeda, who allowed five runs on nine hits in 2.2 innings of work.
“Those five runs in the first two innings — they were on a mission,” Bochy said. “You could tell, they did not want to fly to St. Louis tonight.”
Buster Posey was responsible for three of those runs, slicing a two-run single just inside the right-field foul line in the first and adding another run-scoring single an inning later. Span providing the other two, booming a two-out triple off the base of the wall in right field.
In the top of the fourth, Span was right in the middle of the action when Moore ran into the only trouble he would encounter all day.
After a two-out single by Yasmani Grandal made it 5-1, Joc Pederson came some ten feet from connecting on a three-run homer.
Off the bat, it looked like Pederson’s towering drive had enough to clear the wall, but it ended up landing in the glove of Span, as he hit the warning track in center.
“I wasn’t sure [if it would go out],” Span admitted before giving an assist to third base coach Roberto Kelly.
“Right before that pitch, Roberto signaled to [Brandon] Crawford to tell me to back up,” Span said. “So I’m thankful for that.”
Moore’s dominant day against the Dodgers capped off what was a remarkable final week for the starting rotation. In the last six games of the season, the group tallied a 1.84 ERA (9 ER in 44 innings).
Madison Bumgarner will be the next up to try and continue that streak.
“No, you don’t need to ask,” Bochy said of giving the nod to the lefty for the win-or go home game in New York.
The left-hander will face Noah Syndergaard at Citi Field — a place he’s made his own. In four career starts at the Mets home yard, Bumgarner has surrendered only two earned runs.
“I mean, I definitely don’t mind it,” Bumgarner said. “But I think it’s just worked out that way for whatever reason.”
As the starter stood in the tunnel — just outside the clubhouse — he wore the dark grey shirt that all the playoff participants have been issued. It read “Made for October” right across the front.
Like his manager, Bumgarner is just glad the Giants once again have their Even-Year shot.
“We went through a lot of adversity this year,” Bumgarner said before stopping himself.
“Shoot. It seems like we always do,” he added. “I think that’s good for a team. It helps build character. I’m just really excited to get this chance.”
That chance comes when the club is playing its most inspired ball in months.