Programming note: Padres-Giants coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO -- For once in his baseball life, Mike Murphy could unroll the plastic sheets and never harbor a thought of rolling them back up.
The Giants weren’t going to cancel their postgame party Thursday night because of a loss to the San Diego Padres – or because of a power outage, sinkhole or rabid seagull attack.
They had clinched a place in the postseason earlier in the day, Hunter Pence was keen to drag his pulpit out of storage – and it turns out the Reverend is not always fit for a churchgoing audience.
With the booze flowing and live cameras rolling in the Giants clubhouse following a wild, 9-8 victory, Pence delivered an impassioned speech that was more than laced with expletives. It was stuffed, smothered and covered in them, and a healthy helping made it on air before the sound was cut.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants blow lead, rally to beat Padres]
Will Clark famously shrieked in a postgame celebration that he had been “waiting since the (bleeping) amateurs.” Tim Lincecum’s succinct on-air contribution in 2010 was, “(Bleep) yeah!”
Pence kept the treasured tradition alive, and then he mother (bleeping) expounded on it.
“Our goal is to play in the (bleeping) World Series, and guess what boys, we’re going to the (bleeping) dance!” yelled a stomping and pacing Pence, to satisfied shouts. “We had mother (bleepers) out all the time, all year long. We’ve had (bleeping) big injuries, we’ve had (bleeping) all sorts of (stuff), ups, downs, but …
“We’ve got the mother (bleeping) champion blood.”
Was it eight F-bombs that made it into your living room? Or nine? It all happened so fast, it was hard to tell.
Whatever the tally, this was not the picture of a team that backed into the playoffs.
Why should they scale back? Why should they sip and not spray? It’s been two months since they frittered away the last of that 10-game lead they held over the Los Angeles Dodgers. There’s no sense to keep clinging to regret. There’s no reason to act like they don’t belong.
The postseason is all about managing tension, turning it from a negative to a positive. And the core of this team is the same group that won six elimination games in 2012.
Still, you had to wonder how the celebration might have differed if the Giants hadn’t come back for three runs in the seventh inning after they had blown a 6-0 lead.
It had to perk up the mood to see Pablo Sandoval step up and deliver in four RBI situations, Brandon Belt graduate from spring training mode to a splashdown homer, Buster Posey hitting a double to the base of the wall and the Giants offense looking formidable once more.
Belt hit a tying single and Matt Duffy’s safety squeeze scored Pence with the go-ahead run. Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla protected the one-run lead in the eighth and ninth, Gregor Blanco slid in the grass while catching the 27th out and the Giants swapped jerseys for postseason T-shirts in the handshake line.
“You know what? Last year was a rough year and I think we had some extra motivation when we want into spring training,” Posey said. “ I couldn’t be happier with the guys we have to have a shot to win one game and move on.”
They’ll get either the Pittsburgh Pirates or St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates trail in the NL Central standings by one game. The Pirates also are one better than the Giants in overall record, and because they hold the tiebreaker for home-field advantage, it’s essentially a two-game edge. Even if the Giants win out, they’d need help to play the Wild Card game at home.
“An opportunity is all we ever wanted since spring training and that’s what we have,” left-hander Javier Lopez said. “It’s gonna be fun, all hands on deck.”
In the meantime, they have an opportunity to continue to right their ship against the Padres, play clean games and build more confidence. The middle of the order, which sagged so badly in the last six games of the road trip, was able to produce against a very good pitcher.
Sandoval hadn’t driven in a run in 12 games before he contributed three RBI singles and a sacrifice fly. Posey, whose back has been an issue, took better swings before leaving in the seventh inning. And Belt, who faced one day of live pitching against minor leaguers before coming back from the concussion DL, had the most encouraging game of the bunch.
If Belt had continued to struggle, Bochy would be left with lineup conundrums at first base as well as left field. If the Giants can count on the hitter who led the team with nine home runs when he broke his hand in early May, it could be a difference-making addition in the postseason.
“Shoot, even though I had some tough games in L.A., I was feeling pretty good,” Belt said. “It was just a matter of getting my body in baseball shape again, I think. I feel like I’m there now, and this is a lot of fun.”
The Giants had (bleeping) injuries. They won’t have Angel Pagan or Matt Cain in the postseason. They probably won’t have Michael Morse. They never really had Marco Scutaro at all. But Belt, despite missing huge chunks of the season with the broken thumb and concussion, is ready to rejoin the cast.
“That’s something I really wanted to do,” Belt said. “I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t make it back, but I did everything I could to get over it and just play with these guys again.”
And have one more day. That’s the G-rated version of a Pence speech, right?