Giants Win a Wild One on the Way to the Postseason

The Giants properly celebrated their postseason berth with a come-from-behind 9-8 win over the Padres on Thursday night.

Brandon (both Belt and Crawford) homered and Pablo Sandoval drove in four.

Just five days after the San Diego righty held San Francisco to just two runs in eight innings, the Giants offense wasted no time getting to Andrew Cashner. With one out in the bottom of the first, Joe Panik and Buster Posey hit back-to-back singles before Sandoval’s sacrifice fly brought in the first run of the game.

Belt led off the bottom of the second with a splash hit – the 1,000th splash hit at AT&T Park since it opened. Gregor Blanco doubled to lead off the third. A double by Posey and a single by Sandoval made it 4-0.

A one-out shot by Crawford in the fourth landed in the arcade in right field and gave the shortstop a career-high ten home runs on the season. It also marked the first time in the San Francisco era that two teammates each had at least 20 doubles, and ten or more triples, and homers. Hunter Pence has 29 doubles, ten triples, and 20 long balls. Crawford also has ten triples to go along with his 20 doubles.

Posey and Sandoval combined for one more run in the fifth when Posey walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on another RBI single from Sandoval. Just like that, it was 6-0 and Cashner lasted just five innings, giving up eight hits, six earned runs, one walk, and striking out four.

But the Padres refused to quit, and finally broke through against Yusmeiro Petit in the sixth. Cory Spangenberg led off with a single before Will Venable homered him in. Two batters later, Yasmani Grandal’s solo shot off the right-field foul pole made it 6-3 and ended Petit’s night. For the second straight start, the Giants righty lasted just five-and-a-third innings. On Thursday night, he allowed five hits, three earned runs, one walk, and struck out eight.

The seventh was a nightmare for the San Francisco bullpen. Javier Lopez began the inning and surrendered back-to-back singles to Adam Moore and Spangenberg before getting Venable to pop out. Enter Jean Machi, who walked Jedd Gyorko to load the bases before giving up a go-ahead grand slam to Grandal. Two batters later, Rene Rivera’s solo shot made it 8-6 San Diego.

Fortunately for the Giants, the normally-stingy Padres bullpen also struggled in the seventh. Back-to-back-to-back singles by Joe Panik, Andrew Susac, and Sandoval made it 8-7. Hunter Pence avoided a double play by hustling down the line, putting runners on the corners with one out and Belt, who’s been trying to find his swing after missing so many games, lined a base hit into right to tie the game at nine. Pence’s speed took him to third and eventually home on a bunt by Matt Duffy, giving the Giants the lead and completing the comeback.

For those of you keeping track, that’s…eight runs total in the seventh inning. For the two teams that were ranked first (SD, 2.61) and third (SF, 3.02) in the National League in bullpen ERA.

Tim Lincecum got the final out of that treacherous seventh inning for the black and orange, leading the way for him to collect the win – the 100th of his career. As usual when Lincecum enters a game, the AT&T Park crowd roared to its feet. For the righty who’s had his share of struggles, the fan reaction mans a lot.

“It’s great. You feed off of it. I’m the kind of guy – an emotional pitcher – that I take that out there with me.”

The comeback win was huge for the Giants, who were waiting to celebrate in the clubhouse regardless of the outcome. With the Milwaukee Brewers falling to the Cincinnati Reds earlier in the day, San Francisco was officially into the NL Wild Card game before they even threw a pitch tonight. Thursday night’s win was a mirror of the entire Giants season – a huge lead, a blown lead, and the never-say-die attitude that brought them back propelled them into the postseason.

And as the champagne bottles popped, Bruce Bochy took it all in, incredibly proud of his team’s spirit.

“This game is indicative of our season. The ups and downs…they just looked very determined to find a way to win that game to make this celebration so much sweeter. They did it, and that’s how they fought all year.”

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