The ups and downs of one game accurately depicted the entire 2013 season as the San Francisco Giants walked off for the 12th and final time this year to beat the San Diego Padres 7-6 on the last day of the regular season.
For a team that exited the playoff race a few weeks ago, the San Francisco Giants and their fans made sure AT&T Park was on its feet one final time this season. The fans were loud and just as into the game as if the orange and black were headed back to the playoffs next week. While that won’t be happening, AT&T Park once again sold out all season with a final total to 3,369,106. Today’s crowd marked the 246th consecutive sellout and solidified the fourth straight year the Giants have passed the three million mark.
“The fans support that I’ve had over the last couple of days, just the support they’ve shown and the passion. The way they’re screaming at me and thanking me, the excitement, it definitely lifts your spirits and gives you a positive mentality,” said Hunter Pence.
Barry Zito made his final appearance with the Giants, striking out former teammate Mark Kotsay to end the eighth inning. The punch out and walk back to the dugout worked perfectly, as Zito tipped his cap to the “Barry” chants and the 41,495 on their feet. Manager Bruce Bochy knew he was going to give Zito one final sendoff.
“I gave him a heads up that with Kotsay retiring, that would be his matchup. So he knew it, they were teammates and it was a really fun deal,” he said.
With two outs in the ninth inning, the excitement of Sergio Romo and “El Mechon” was stifled as Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco collided on a hit off the bat of Will Venable. Blanco was helped off the field with a sprained right ankle, and after the game x-rays came back negative with an MRI to come tomorrow.
Romo was able to finish off the ninth unscathed, and in the bottom of the inning, Francisco Peguero tied the game with the first home run of his career. It came down to the Iron Man who started all 162 games this season, who knocked in the winning run to end the season on a high note. Pence became the first Giant to start every regular-season game since Alvin Dark’s 1954 season with the New York Giants.
“My spirits were lifted. Every game I try to give everything I have, but it’s just a positive feeling within. They believe in me and I’m going to show them what I have,” said Pence.
Another big highlight of the game: Bryan Stow was in the house. He took off his cap and waved to the crowd, appearing to say “Go Giants.”
This season ended on a high note for San Francisco, who finished their final homestand with a 4-2 record, winning both series against the Dodgers and Padres. Tony Abreu made a solid final push at the end, going 2-for-5 today with a double and two runs scored. He is 11-for-28 (.393) during his current seven-game hit streak. Brandon Belt also completed the season strong with a .344 September average, hitting two home runs, ten doubles and 15 RBI. The Giants finish their season with a 42-40 winning home record and 76-86 overall, third place in the National League West.
“Obviously it wasn’t our goal at the beginning to come in third, but it’s not fourth,” said Brandon Crawford, who left the game after hurting his finger during his fourth inning at-bat.
The offseason will be used for rest, bubble wrap and attempts to fill the Giants rotation and lineup for 2014. At the moment Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner are the only two locked up for San Francisco, and the Giants have begun talking to Tim Lincecum’s camp to try and work out a deal to bring The Freak back to AT&T Park. Javier Lopez is also a free agent and would like to return, but the lefty’s future still hangs in the balance.
From home runs to double plays, injuries to walk-offs, this game was a microcosm of the entire 2013 season. Through each game, the fans were there, Journey was played, and high socks were frequent. While it wasn’t the season the Giants had hoped for, the perseverance from this team over the struggles, highs and lows never failed. It’s been a privilege and an honor to bring you San Francisco Giants coverage, and I wish you all a wonderful, non-torturous off-season.