SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — Giants reliever Dominic Leone struck out San Diego’s Eric Hosmer Sunday, igniting a wild celebration as San Francisco clinched its first National League West title since 2012 with an 11-4 victory over San Diego in the season finale for the club’s record 107th win.
The victory sent the team’s heated rivals — the Los Angeles Dodgers — into a one-or-done wild card showdown against the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals. Despite winning 106 games, the Dodgers saw their run of eight straight NL West titles come to an end.
The Giants will host the opening game of the National League divisional playoffs on Friday.
Logan Webb, completing his first full season in the Major Leagues, walked off to a roaring standing ovation when replaced in the eighth after allowing three straight singles. He struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter while pitching seven-plus stellar innings, and also hit a two-run homer in the fifth to clear the fences for his first time in his career — a pretty line drive to left.
Buster Posey had an incredible day, too. He drove in three runs on a pair of singles and got his 1,500th career hit as San Francisco’s division hopes came down to the final day.
To the roar of the sell-out crowd, Giants manager Gabe Kapler, front runner for the NL Manager of the Year, declared how proud he was of his team.
Before the season, the pundits predicted the Giants would linger in the shadows of the star-studded lineups of the Dodgers and the Padres. They wouldn’t win more than 75 games.
“As we were hugging on the field, what was being repeated was — ‘I’m really proud of you’,” he said. “How proud I am of this group and what they accomplished. Part of why I feel this way is because we all knew what the projections were and what the industry thought of us as a club.”
“What I realized there are some intangibles that those projections and viewpoints failed to take into consideration,” he continued.
“The first intangible was just toughness … This group always thought they were going to win the game. Another intangible they didn’t account for was grit. We had some injuries, guys who struggled for a long time. They just went back to work everyday … They got stronger and better.”
“The last intangible, the most important one was vision … The group of older players said we want to win the National League West. At that point, this entire group surrounded that vision and made it the goal and never gave up on that goal.”
The Giants clinched the title in Game 162 after losing 3-2 in 10 innings a day earlier as Los Angeles won at night against NL Central champion Milwaukee.
San Francisco held baseball’s best record for 125 days and won on the last day of the regular season for the first time since 2017.
Manny Machado briefly made things interesting with a sacrifice fly in the fourth against Webb, who went unbeaten since May 5 at Colorado. He finished 10-0 after that loss but was coming off three straight no-decisions since beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sept. 12.
There were so many big hits to back the right-hander’s latest gem. Mike Yastrzemski’s two-run double in the seventh made it 11-1.
Webb walked to load the bases with one out in the fourth and Tommy La Stella followed with an RBI single before Wilmer Flores singled in two more runs.
This one brought on some Oct. 3 memories for the storied franchise, now determined to create some more in October like the 2010, ’12 and ’14 World Series champions with some of the same faces of today in Posey, Brandon Crawford and injured slugger Brandon Belt.
Webb delivered just as Jonathan Sanchez did pitching the Giants past the Padres on the final day in 2010 to advance the club to its first playoff appearance in six years.
Or you could even go way back to Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ’Round the World as Willie Mays and the New York Giants beat Brooklyn 5-4 to clinch the 1951 pennant before eventually losing the World Series.
These 2021 Giants completed a stunning turnaround in manager Gabe Kapler’s second season from a club that finished 29-31 for third place in the division during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.
Los Angeles and these Padres, after all, were the hands-down favorites to win the division when the season began six months ago.
Giants: Posey’s durability down the stretch has been quite a physical feat. He started behind the plate for the fifth time in six games. While he pinch hit Saturday, Posey caught a full game Sunday for the 10th time over the final 13 games — remarkable at age 34 in his 12th major league season.
Longtime Giants coach Ron Wotus, who is retiring after 24 years, caught a ceremonial first pitch from his grand-nephew and was honored with a video tribute before the bottom of the fourth. He came out to coach third and tipped his cap as fans gave him a warm standing ovation.
© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report