SAN FRANCISCO The moment always arrives in a clinchinggame: the players take in their surroundings, lock eyes and nod.
It's the moment when they know: Weve got this.
For the Giants, they knew they would clinch the NL West in the fourth inning Saturday night, when Marco Scutaro collected a two-out, two-run single to give them a 5-1 lead. Scutaro contributed another two-out RBI hit in the sixth his third of the game and 78th in 51 games as a Giant as they saw through an 8-4 victory over the San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers added over 200 million in dead payroll to getuseful stars in Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez. The Giants received farmore punch from a little contact man who had 2 million left on his deal andthe Colorado Rockies covered a quarter of that, too.
Scutaro, oh my God, center fielder Angel Pagan said. Theway he plays baseball, hes teaching me to be a better player. I dont have thewords.
Pablo Sandoval said he knew the Giants would win whenScutaros two-run hit found turf. Posey, never one to take anything forgranted, felt the same way.
He just you know, he just never seems to be in a hurry,Posey said. Thats the main thing. Hes patiently aggressive, I guess Ill gowith that.
Just like 2010, when Giants GM Brian Sabean made morecomplementary moves to get relievers Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez, theacquisition of Scutaro made a huge impact on the face of the NL West.
They lost Melky Cabrera, who was hitting .346. They addedScutaro, who is hitting .361 since the deal for minor league Charlie Culberson.
Could Sabean ever recall getting a bigger impact player atmidseason?
Id have to look back, but hes been pretty darnconsistent, Sabean said. Really, after we moved up Pagan to the leadoff spotand had Scutaro second, thats when the lineup seemed to turn on a dime. Andmost of the lineup is out there every day. Theres an energy to that.
Sergio Romo had a feeling he might be entrusted with gettingthe final out in a clinching victory. So he sought out the swami in thesematters, one Brian Wilson, Esq.
I said, Im really excited. What a feeling it would be,Romo said. He said, Just wait. Its only the first of plenty.
Tell you what, I love these guys. Were not trying to bethat man. Were all just trying to be ourselves. All year long, all weve triedto do is complement each other. Its an amazing feeling. I feel very proud, very privilegedto get that last out. It meant a lot to me personally that they trust me andgave me that chance.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he was tickled at how thematchups worked out in the ninth, allowing him to use Javier Lopez to strikeout lefty hitter Yonder Alonso, and then bring in Romo to end it.
We wouldnt be here without Lopez, and both of them havebeen closing games, Bochy said. So to have them both out there was special.It meant a lot to me to put them out there and hopefully it meant a lot tothem, too.
The Giants rotation won its sixth consecutive game, asMadison Bumgarner pitched well enough to win. Its the second time in the lastfive weeks that the Giants were able to take a turn through their rotation withall five starters receiving a win.
They also did it Aug. 20-24. Not surprisingly, they wrestedfirst place for keeps on Aug. 20 at San Diego, and never looked back.
Prior to that, they hadnt done it since April 20-25, 2007(Russ Ortiz, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Matt Morris and Noah Lowry).
It was fitting that Bumgarner pitched the clincher. Twoyears ago, he stood against a wall in a cramped clubhouse at Texas, all of 21years old, and said he would appreciate everything about being in thepostseason because you never know if youll get there again.
Hes going there, again.
Six of nine Giants on the field at the final out do not owna World Series ring.
Pagan and Scutaro were two of them. So were Brandon Belt,Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford.
Crawford was in the Giants minor league system in 2010. Hewas at the World Series sitting in the 300 level. So dont tell him that this teamisnt hungry to go all the way.
RATTO: It wasn't clean, but it was classically Giant
We got in the ninth inning and it was the loudest Ive everheard it here and it gets pretty loud, too, said Crawford, who grew up in Pleasanton. Being part ofthis team and going to the playoffs, its a dream come true. Thats the onlyway I can describe it.
This is the Giants eighth NL West title. Its the sixthtime theyve clinched against the Padres.
I checked and of Bochys four NL West titles in his dozenyears as San Diegos manager, one of those came against the Giants.
These Giants clinched in game No.152. Of Bochys six NL West division winners, the only one to clinch earlier was his 1998 Padres club. They did it in their 149th game, and then went 4-9 down the stretch. But that didnt seem to make a difference once the playoffs started. They took out the Houston Astros (led by Randy Johnson) and Atlanta Braves (led by Greg Maddux) before bowing to the Yankees in a four-game World Series sweep.
BAGGARLY: Giants knock down doors, resoundingly win NL West
Anyway, point is, Bochy has been in this position before. That should help him understand how to keep this team sharp but rested over these final 10 games.
Pablo Sandoval, asked to describe these 2012 Giants in oneword:
WORLD SERIES, he said.
To borrow a phrase from acclaimed cinema, Forget it, hesrolling.