The Giants wasted no time, teeing off on Yu Darvish to send themselves into the postseason for the first time since 2016.
With their 9-1 rout of the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants took the first game of the series and clinched a playoff berth (i.e. they will at least hold a wild card) for the first time since 2016. The Giants are 94-50, and have 18 games left to play. According to the broadcast, it’s their earliest clinch (Sept. 13th) in franchise history. They’re 6 wins away from 100, a win number that seemed almost infeasible at the beginning of this season. Fangraphs projected the Giants to go 77-85 at the beginning of the season, finishing 3rd in the NL West behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Padres. With the Padres now unable to catch the Giants, the Giants are guaranteed to finish at least second and have already outperformed their projected win total by 17 games.
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 14, 2021
Despite this huge accomplishment, the Giants are not finished with the season yet. As Tyler Rogers said after last night’s win against the Cubs: “Obviously, if we do end up clinching a playoff spot here sometime soon, we’re not going to take the foot off the gas. Winning the division is our mindset.” With the Giants still leading the Dodgers by 2.5 games, they have a clear path to the top of the division — and they plan to take it as far as possible.
So, how did the Giants clinch this year’s playoff spot? In dominating fashion, teeing off against a shaky Yu Darvish. Leading off, Tommy La Stella set the tone for the game, sending a 2-1 cutter from Darvish deep to straightaway center.
Darin Ruf then walked, and was brought home by a LaMonte Wade Jr. triple. A Brandon Crawford walk then set the stage for Evan Longoria, who went deep on another Darvish cutter and sent a ball careening towards left field, scoring three more Giants runs to bring the lead to 5-0 before Darvish could record more than one out.
Meanwhile, Dominic Leone pitched the first and second innings, allowing just one hit and no runs with a strikeout. Impressively, he got through all seven batters in just 18 pitches, 15 of which he threw for strikes. He threw just six pitches in the first inning!
The Padres scored their only run in the third inning off of Jarlin Garcia, who gave up consecutive doubles to Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr. Despite ending the night with 7 hits, the Padres would not threaten again as the Giants bullpen continued its impressive run of keeping hitters off balance.
Not wanting to miss out on the fun, and perhaps wanting to highlight his stature as the alpha captain as well, Mike Yastrzemski went deep in the bottom of the fourth.
This briefly tied him for the team lead in home runs (23) with Brandon Belt, the aforementioned alpha, who then decided to do very alpha things and grab the home run lead right back:
Belt’s 24th of the year sets an absolute career high, as he had 23 home runs in his first season in the minors. It also scored Curt Casali, who had singled earlier in the inning. With the Giants lead up to 8-1, Zack Littell, Jose Alvárez, Camilo Doval, and Kervin Castro combined for a clean ride through the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. The four allowed four hits, but paired that with just one walk and nine strikeouts to stifle the Padres lineup through the latter innings.
The Giants scored their final run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Longoria drove in Crawford with an RBI single after Crawford doubled.
Castro had a slightly shaky ninth inning, allowing a single to Eric Hosmer and double to Wil Myers, but silenced the Padres with a seven-pitch strikeout to get Ha-Seong Kim looking and punch the Giants ticket to the postseason!
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 14, 2021
The Giants have now won eight straight games and have three games remaining against the Padres in this series, but can revel for now in the accomplishment of making the early season statisticians look silly as they clinch a playoff spot at the earliest date in franchise history. They are the also first team to clinch a postseason spot in Major League Baseball this season!