Giants exhale with a few days off, wait on NLDS opponent
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Fresh off an NL West crown that took 107 wins for the Giants to 106 by the Dodgers, Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey couldn’t help but envision a potentially epic playoff matchup against rival Los Angeles.
Now, the Giants get to wait until after Wednesday’s NL wild-card game between the Cardinals and Dodgers to see if that matchup will materialize.
“It’ll be fun no matter what,” said Posey, who caught five of the final six games and 10 of 13 down the stretch. “When it comes down to the postseason, the intensity’s there no matter what, but there’s no doubt that it would be heightened if we play them.”
San Francisco is holding optional workouts Tuesday through Thursday in preparation for hosting Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Friday night at Oracle Park, though manager Gabe Kapler expects the sessions to be well attended.
The Giants finally got to catch their breath after the division went down to the final day and they edged out the reigning World Series winner and eight-time defending West champion.
“Well, that’s what it’s like to be in the division against the Dodgers,” Crawford said. “They always have a great team. To be able to hold them off for most of the second half is pretty great for us.”
Kapler hadn’t decided on a Game 1 starter, equally confident in his two options: right-handers Kevin Gausman and Logan Webb .
Crawford, Posey and the club’s injured home run leader Brandon Belt are a major reason the Giants are back on the October postseason stage.
They delivered time and again when many counted them out months ago. For Posey to return after sitting out the coronavirus-shortened 60-game season last year meant so much to the Giants both on the field and in the clubhouse. Belt and Crawford produced career numbers.
Belt’s recovery timeline remained unclear, though Kapler noted Tuesday, he “talked about the NLCS as kind of the dream scenario.” And Belt was on the field take grounders at first, certainly a positive sign.
The break this week especially mattered for Posey and the taxed bullpen, which took on a greater load last month as starters Johnny Cueto and Alex Wood were out.
“It was a grind. You think about winning 107 games, you think that you’re going to get to relax a little bit the last 10 days or so at least of the season,” Posey said. “It makes it all the more special coming down to the last day and to play as well as we did.”
Posey took a moment during the on-field celebration after Sunday’s 11-4 win over San Diego to appreciate the scene and importance.
“What stands out to me was after the game looking up in the stands and seeing everybody together,” Posey said. “That’s what I noticed more than anything, and it made me really happy. It made me happy to see people sharing moments together like this. I think that’s what’s obviously so great about sports. It allows people, families, communities to come together. What the whole world’s endured the last two years having to really just isolate, it was a great feeling seeing everybody enjoying the moment.”
Retiring coach Ron Wotus loved it, too, and he is proud of the trio of Belt, Crawford and Posey— Posey a cornerstone in title runs in 2010, ’12 and ’14, while Belt and Crawford contributed in the last two championships — for all they did to lead the Giants this far.
“When you’ve been through battles and you’ve been through as much as we’ve been together, you pull for them as if they were your own kids,” Wotus said. “I’m so happy. Coming into the year there were a lot of people who maybe doubted them, didn’t think this would happen. We would not be here if it wasn’t for our veteran leadership.”
Across the bay in Oakland, Athletics executive Billy Beane and general manager David Forst were cheering for the former pupil they helped groom: Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.
“We couldn’t be happier. We say that truly,” Beane said. “He’s an amazing person, an amazing executive. We couldn’t be prouder to be both friends with him and for him and what his organization’s accomplished. It’s fun. He’s such an easy person to root for.”
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