It’s been five years since Brandon Belt toasted a playoff spot, so the Giants first baseman was admittedly short of practice when the champagne started to flow in the San Francisco clubhouse.
“I forgot how much it burns to get in your eyes, but it burns so good,” said beaming Belt. “We absolutely love it.”
CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM
The surprising Giants became the first team to land a playoff berth this season, hitting four home runs to beat the San Diego Padres 9-1 on Monday night for their eighth consecutive win, a season-high.
After finishing 29-31 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Giants were a game-changer in manager Gabe Kapler’s second year. They have the best baseball record (94-50) with 18 games to go, which guarantees them at least one wild card as they try to fend off rival Dodgers for the NL West title.
“It’s a pretty focused and balanced team,” said Kapler, who won a World Series ring as a player with the Boston Red Sox in 2004. “You’ve got quite a few World Series champions in the game. this room and people who understand that is a step in the direction we want to take, but not the ultimate goal. “
San Francisco extended their last hot streak with early power at home and a steady pitch from the relieving box after opener Dominic Leone pitched two strong innings.
Tommy La Stella scored on the fourth pitch for Padres starter Yu Darvish and Evan Longoria hit a three-runner drive five batters later. Mike Yastrzemski added a solo shot in the fourth, when Belt also went deep as San Francisco secured a playoff berth for the first time since 2016.
This one was unexpected for a team that won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
“It took us maybe half the season to get national recognition, but now we understand that we have a goal behind our back,” said Longoria. “It doesn’t get any easier from here.”
All four homers came from Darvish (8-10), struggling in his debut season with the Padres after starting 6-1. The five-time All-Star lasted four innings, allowing eight runs and six hits.
San Diego lost a game behind Cincinnati in slow motion for the NL’s second wild card.
“The story of the night, we were beaten from the start with the long ball,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “(Darvish) just didn’t have overall command. Didn’t have the finish of what he usually has with the slider and cutter. From a health standpoint, he’s good.”
After the final, the Giants hugged each other on the field and the coaches did the same in the canoe before heading to the pavilion for a bubbly celebration.
This is the first date the franchise has ever won a playoff trip.
“Like most of the years we’ve won it or made the playoffs, I don’t think most people thought we would be in that position,” Belt said. “It’s pretty satisfying to come back here after a while and not be very good. People just kept stepping up.”
The Padres scored on back-to-back doubles from Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr. of Jarlin García in the third.
Zack Littell (3-0) struck out five batters for the win. José Álvarez, Camilo Doval and Kervin Castro followed and combined for four scoreless innings.
Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers had two hits each for San Diego.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Padres: RHP Chris Paddack was placed on the 10 Day Injury List with inflammation in his right elbow, an injury he apparently made worse while playing wrestling before the match. It’s a big blow to the rotation, as Blake Snell receives treatment for groin tightness that limited him to 11 shots against the Dodgers on Sunday. RHP Shaun Anderson has been recalled from Triple-A El Paso to fill Paddack’s place.
Giants: LHP José Quintana has been reinstated from the paternity list. DE Mauricio Dubon has been optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.
RHP Jake Arrieta (5-12, 7.04 ERA) is making his third start for the Padres since signing as a minor league free agent on August 16. Arrieta allowed three runs in five innings in his last outing against the Astros.
Giants RHP Anthony DeSclafani (11-6, 3.33) is winless in his previous four starts and has allowed six earned runs in the last 14 2/3 innings.