Together In Torture

October 3

The Giants high-fived their fans and splashed the champagne Sunday. Did anyone think they would celebrate in the 7th inning after Santiago Casilla let a tapper from the pesky David Eckstein roll through the five-hole to put two Padres on in a 2-0 game ? But when Ramon Ramirez struck out Miguel Tejada, perhaps the biggest moment of the season so far, everyone relaxed.

Buster Posey added on an 8th inning home run to probably seal Rookie of the Year, and Brian Wilson tied the club record with 47th save. After three days of torture, the Giants nailed down a 3-0 win over the Padres. Then it was party time.

As I wrote yesterday, I felt much better about Sanchez than Barry Zito. Sanchez did what he was asked to do and then some — a triple that started a third inning rally. The Giants bullpen was formidable as usual.

The day began with a Braves victory and tight sphincter muscles. Scoring first and scoring early was huge, and the Giants hung on in their own deliciously agonizing way. The “Giants Way.”

They did it with pitching. They did it with togetherness. They did it with young talent and veterans. The Barry Bonds years never seemed so far away.

To get an idea of a team’s clubhouse chemistry, you probably shouldn’t go inside the doors after it has won a championship. It’s a love-fest. Winning is the ultimate deodorant, and I might add, aphrodisiac.

Nonetheless, a team like the Giants could not have gotten by without that chemistry.

It was truly a team effort to make the post-season. Home-grown talent like Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval. Free-agent pickups like Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe. Trade acquisitions like Freddy Sanchez. Mid-season acquisitions like Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez.

As Wilson pointed out after the game, people from all walks of life banded together. Latinos. Veterans. Rookies. Nice guys. Not so nice guys. It isn’t easy to mix together 25 to 40 personalities, but somehow the Giants found the right mix.

In the clubhouse, there were dozens of stories. Sandoval, who has struggled most of the year but found his stroke in the final week, was in love with the world. Pat Burrell had the look of a guy who couldn’t believe his good fortune. Aubrey Huff was celebrating the highlight of his major league career.

Juan Uribe and Nate Schierholtz celebrated with their families. Sergio Romo recounted his key role as the set-up man, all year and on Sunday. Barry Zito, after his most disappointing day as a Giant, still faced the cameras. Andres Torres soaked in what has been a dream year for him at age 32.

Wilson was effusive in his praise of Posey and the way he handled the pitching staff, calling him a “perfect player.” Asked if he was surprised that the seemingly-tired Posey was able to homer on his final at-bat of the season, Wilson told me, “nothing he does surprises me.”

For a couple of years, I told frustrated Giants fans on post-game shows to be patient, the talent was coming in the post-Bonds era and the team was going to improve. But even I had my doubts early this year, following 88 wins in 2009. To his credit, G.M. Brian Sabean found just enough talent to get the Giants over the top.

So, when I am on the air Monday at KNBR, I will utter the words Gary Radnich hoped I would say in early August. I’m sorry, “Sabes.” I’m sorry, “Boch.”

No one is perfect, and those two have made some mistakes, but both had a renaissance this year. To their credit, they recognized this team had enough talent to make the postseason with a little tweaking and a little accesorizing. Now they are in the postseason, and Wilson said it: no one wants to play the Giants. A team with pitching this good is set up to go deep.

For the Padres, it was a crushingly disappointing end to a long, terrific and surprising run. Bud Black should probably be Manager of the Year. In the press box, I turned to longtime Padres announcer Jerry Coleman and told him the Padres MADE the NL West race this year. At 86, Coleman has no time for b.s. : “you don’t hit, you don’t win, ” he said.

The Giants hit just enough to support that great pitching. I thought they would at least be in the Wild Card mix this year, and that was before they made all the moves. They were built brick by brick, and that’s what made it so satisfying for everyone involed — including the fans, who were just itching to explode.

And explode they did. With more explosions to come. As Kenny Powers said: “you want me to make noise? Then noise you shall see ? ” Get ready to see more later this week.


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