San Francisco Chronicle
Crawford sees S.F. title pedigree
Brandon Crawford, an old hand at playoff races, is in a perfect position to compare and contrast the 2021 Giants with playoff teams of the past.
Back when even-year postseason runs were a thing for the Giants, Crawford rode the waves to World Series championships in 2012 and 2014 and the abbreviated and forgettable experience in 2016.
The Giants are heading to the playoffs once more, the odd year notwithstanding, and the decorated shortstop sees some similarities to his teams from the good ol’ days.
“I think just the feeling we have in the clubhouse,” Crawford said before Monday night’s home game against the Padres. “It doesn’t really matter who’s in the other dugout. We feel we can go out and win every night. I think the feeling was the same in those World Series years.”
The Giants came home to Oracle Park from a 6-0 trip through Denver and Chicago with a magic number of one for securing at least a wild-card spot, their first celebratory clinching opportunity in 2021. Their 93-60 record not only was tops in the majors, but it was the National League’s fourthbest mark through 143 games in the divisional era, since 1969.
Crawford has experienced many clinching celebrations and hopes for more this fall. Even though the primary target is claiming the National League West flag, every milestone on that path would need acknowledgment, and Crawford said a celebration was indeed in order.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment to make the playoffs. That’s not our ultimate goal,” Crawford said. “We want to finish out the season winning the division. We still have an eye on that, but making the postseason is a good accomplishment for this team.
“It was our goal in spring training to get to the postseason. We always had our eye on the division. But to get to the postseason, obviously, is how you get your foot in the door to potentially win the World Series. It’s a good first step.”
Baseball’s most surprising team is treasuring every moment. This race was supposed to be all about the reigning champion Dodgers and beefedup Padres, who arrived in San Francisco just six games above .500 and a whopping 181⁄2 games behind the Giants.
How are the Giants doing it? It’s a question that has been asked throughout baseball all season. The numbers tell much of the story. The roster depth has been cited. The ability to grind at-bats. The dominant pitching, starting with Kevin Gausman in the first half and Logan Webb in the second. The never-ending string of successful relievers. The chemistry.
Oh, and the manager, Gabe
Kapler, deserves credit.
“Oh, a ton,” Crawford said. “The way he’s managed the team and brought in pinchhitters and relief pitchers seemingly in the right situation all the time, he deserves a lot of credit. He probably does more managing than most managers do with all the pieces we’ve used this year. He’s done a great job.”
But it’s not just one thing, Crawford emphasized.
“I don’t think there’s one secret ingredient,” he said. “We’ve done a good job of playing good baseball all year, whether the offensive side, the pitching side, the defensive side. Just a good job of playing good quality baseball all the way around.”
The Giants have no more games against the second-place Dodgers but have plenty more against the Padres — in fact, the schedule shows San Diego as the opponent in 10 of the Giants’ final 19 games, including Monday’s.
The division winner goes straight to a best-of-five series. The two wild-card entries play a do-or-die game to earn a Division Series spot. That should provide the Giants all the momentum they need in the final three weeks.
“Just knowing that’s our goal for the end of the season, to win the division,” Crawford said. “We know the Dodgers are right behind us, so we have to keep coming out and playing like we have all year.”
Briefly: Lefty Jose Quintana was reinstated from the paternity list, and infielder Mauricio Dubón was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento . ... Pitcher Alex Wood, who’s on the COVID-10 list after testing positive for the coronavirus, threw a side session, and the Giants were contemplating his next step . ... Johnny Cueto (elbow) remains shut down, and there’s no plan to have him throw soon. ... The Giants’ 62 runs over the past week, entering Monday, matched the fourth most in their San Francisco history over a seven-game stretch.