SAN FRANCISCO – The crowd at AT&T Park made a nervous buzz in the immediate aftermath of the Giants’ 9-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Fan Appreciation Day.
And that was after the team awarded the new car.
Hunter Pence grabbed the microphone, and there is no 7-second delay when you’re addressing a stadium filled with 40,000 people.
“First thing I’ve got to make sure … is this thing live?” joked Pence, whose entertaining, expletive-filled rally speech in the clubhouse on Thursday partially made it on air.
This time, Pence’s remarks were suitable for all ages. And it wasn’t a speech. It was a tent revival.
He touched on the first meeting the team held this spring, about vision and the fiber of one’s being and how the fans take these wins and losses just as personal as the players do. Then he tutored the sellout crowd on the finer points of the “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant.
“Right now we’re not guaranteed another game here at home,” said Pence, and you knew exactly what he was teeing up. “Do you guys want to see another game here at home?”
“YES! YES! YES!”
“That’s what we’re talking about!” he said.
Even if the Giants do not get any further than their Wild Card game Wednesday at PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates, their season was a memorable, 88-74 run that included wild ups and downs, a Tim Lincecum no-hitter, a classic race for the division with the archrival Dodgers, a trainer’s room full of injured stars and an infusion of youthful production from a farm system that wasn’t supposed to bear fruit in the near term.
Brett Bochy, the first major league pitcher ever to be managed by his father, got to throw the final pitch to close out the regular season, too.
“It’s a moment I won’t forget,” Bruce Bochy said. “A very proud moment for me, and this is a lineup card I will save.”
The Giants are determined to collect more memories and keepsakes. That is why they didn’t make much ceremony over Pablo Sandoval’s exit after three innings, even though free agency looms and this might have been his final home game as a Giant.
“I’m looking forward to the game Wednesday,” said Sandoval, brushing off a question about whether he got emotional Sunday. “I’m just going to go forward and play my game and do my best from here.”
Said Bruce Bochy: “Shoot, I love Pablo and I hope things work out, trust me. That thought did cross my mind, but right now our focus has to be on Wednesday’s game, and that we get back here and Pablo plays here. You can’t let these things enter your mind because there’s too much at stake.
In general, what does Sandoval think of the way he’s been received by the throngs of panda hat-wearing supporters?
“Love it, I love it,” Sandoval said. “They’re the best fans. I’ve had the best experience in my six years here. So it was a great moment, especially today, to win and to be in the playoffs. We’ll try to bring it home.”
It’ll be Madison Bumgarner against Edinson Volquez in a matchup of teams that finished not only with identical 88-74 records but dead-on-the-nose +51 run differentials. We’ll have much more breaking down that matchup, the roster decisions and complete coverage both on CSN Bay Area and here on CSNBayArea.com.
For now, though, Bruce Bochy acknowledged feeling relief when Buster Posey, who had missed the previous two games with back tightness, belted his 22nd home run in the first inning.
“He told me he wanted to play, and to be honest, I was a little concerned if he was healthy,” the manager said. “But he showed it in that first swing.”
Whether teams are going to the playoffs or the first tee, there’s accounting to be done on the last day of the regular season. Here are some of the numbers:
--Brandon Crawford, after hitting .248 last year and .248 the year before that, finished at .246 this time. But he also shattered his previous high by driving in 69 runs, many of them from the No. 8 spot.
--Adam Duvall, who hasn’t been used much in recent weeks, hit his third homer of the season. That makes an even 30 homers, counting his 27 with Triple-A Fresno. It doesn’t count the same, of course, but only three NL players reached the 30-homer mark this season.
--Posey’s .311 average was fourth in the NL, behind two Pirates (Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison) and batting champ Justin Morneau (.319) of the Colorado rockies.
--Pence finished second in the NL with a career-high 106 runs scored, five behind Washington’s Anthony Rendon for the league lead. Pence also finished third in the NL with 180 hits, four behind co-leaders Denard Span and Ben Revere.
Pence’s 708 plate appearances was one behind the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter for the NL lead and marked the first time a Giant reached the 700 mark since Brett Butler in 1990. (The full 700 club in the San Francisco era: Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, Tito Fuentes, Chili Davis, Butler, Pence.)
--The Giants were 88-74 with a +51 run differential. The Pirates were 88-74 with a +51 run differential.
--The Padres' RBI leader was Jedd Gyorko ... with 51.
--Joe Panik finished his rookie season at .305, although it would’ve been .302 if not for a replay review that overturned an out call Sunday. Panik gave a shout out to Chad Chop, who works with Shawon Dunston in the video room. “Thank you, Chopper,” Panik said. Hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens walked up to Panik after the game, shook his hand, looked him right in the eye and said, “Congratulations on .300. It’s not easy.”
Neither is what awaits the Giants.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Pence said to the crowd, “and we cannot wait to see you again.”