With an 11-4 win over the Padres on the final day of the 2021 MLB regular season, the San Francisco Giants clinched the National League West title. The division title is the first for the Giants since 2012, and it snapped the Dodgers' streak of eight consecutive NL West crowns. The Giants finish the regular season with baseball's best record at 107-55, but it took all 162 games to hold off the reigning champion Dodgers, who will head to the winner-take-all NL Wild Card Game against the Cardinals on Wednesday.
The win on Sunday came with relative ease after an extra-innings loss on Saturday. A two-RBI Buster Posey single gave the Giants the lead in the third inning and they busted the game open with a five-run fourth. Starting pitcher Logan Webb finished off his breakout season by playing two-way star. He even hit a home run:
Given the score at the time, we'll call that a victory lap. It was Webb's first career homer. He actually reached three times, as he went 2 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored in addition to the homer and two RBI seen above.
Webb threw seven-plus innings of six-hit ball on the mound, allowing four runs while striking out eight. He didn't walk anyone. His line was actually much better before the eighth, but he was left in the game and gave up three hits before being pulled. It was a stellar outing through seven (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). This puts the finishing touches on a sparkling season for Webb. He finishes 11-3 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 158 strikeouts in 148 1/3 innings and figures to be a key piece if the Giants make a run in October.
After the game, it was party time for the West champs.
Champagne and beer showers 🍾🍺 pic.twitter.com/nREKyzuvqM— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) October 3, 2021
Divisions were first implemented for the 1969 season. This is the Giants' ninth NL West title. The others: 2012, 2010, 2003, 2000, 1997, 1989, 1987 and 1971. The Giants also have three World Series titles in San Francisco: 2010, 2012 and 2014. In his fourth season overall and second with the Giants, this is the first division title for Gabe Kapler, the likely 2021 NL Manager of the Year.
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It actually looked like things were trending toward a clinch Friday night, with the Giants leading the Padres and the Dodgers trailing the Brewers by four runs in the fifth inning. The magic number was two at the time. The Dodgers then tied it with a Trea Turner grand slam and won. The Giants won their game, meaning the magic number had been trimmed to one. Then it looked like it would happen on Saturday afternoon, but the Padres staged a late comeback and then held the Giants off in extra innings. The Dodgers would then win Saturday night to force meaningful games on Sunday. And the Giants took care of business from there. They are now finally the NL West champs.
Going back to the spring, this would have been a pretty shocking result. The Giants' over/under win total prior to the season was 73.5 while the Dodgers' was 103.5. The Dodgers' over cashed! And they still aren't winning the division, as the Giants are having possibly the best season in franchise history.
The Giants were first tied for first place on April 26 and took it over alone April 30. They would lose hold of the division twice the rest of the way, but only for very short spurts. After April 25, the Giants were only trailing in the division for 10 days. They were the first MLB team to 50 wins, 60 wins, 70 wins, 80 wins, 90 wins and 100 wins. This is all just a perfect illustration of how consistently excellent this ballclub has been nearly all season.
In San Francisco history, the previous record for wins was 103 (1993 and 1962). The franchise record -- remember, they were the New York Giants before the move out west -- was 106 (1904), which this team has now surpassed. It's a new franchise record for one of the most successful ballclubs the league has seen.
Another feather in cap for the Giants here, which has to be especially sweet given who it is: The Dodgers are the first team in MLB history to win at least 105 games and not finish in first place. The Dodgers' Sunday win gave them 106 victories on the year. Longtime franchise center piece Buster Posey called it "special" to prevail in such an amazing race.
"This one is very special." - Buster pic.twitter.com/8H7PoE5qVG— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) October 3, 2021
The next meaningful game the Giants play will be Friday, Oct. 8, when they host the winner of the NL Wild Card Game in Oracle Park. That means it'll be either the Cardinals or NL rival Dodgers.
For now, though, the Giants have won the NL West despite having to deal with a powerhouse in the same division. That's quite an accomplishment for a team few believed would contend this season.