The Giants had plenty of reasons to celebrate. The day began with a Brewers loss, which allowed the Giants to back into the Wild Card play-in game. So a celebration was planned for after Thursday night’s game against the Padres, win or lose. Despite giving up a 6-0 lead when the Padres struck for three runs in the sixth inning and five runs in the seventh, the Giants ended up winning a 9-8 game that symbolized how this season has gone.
Great start, awful middle, and escaping with a victory by the skin of their teeth.
What may be cause for future celebration came in the form of breakout performances from Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt.
Buster Posey and Joe Panik each had two hits, but we’re used to seeing that. Sandoval has shown signs lately that he might be on the verge, but the results finally came tonight as he drove in four for the first time all season and went 3-for-3. Belt clubbed his 12th home run, a high shot that sailed over the Levi’s flags and into McCovey Cove, and added a run-scoring single to tie the game in the seventh.
“I’m definitely feeling a lot better the last couple of games. I think it’s not necessarily a matter of getting my swing back, it’s a matter of getting in shape now. Once I can get my body in shape, I can go out there and feel good most every game, that’s definitely something that’s going to help out,” Belt said.
The weather in San Francisco has been warm and much more humid than normal all week, and the climate seemed to make the ballpark a bit smaller. Brandon Crawford’s 10th homer of the year gave the Giants a 5-0 lead in the fourth. They’d add another in the fifth off Andrew Cashner, the guy who looked like an all-around superstar against them on Saturday. Then the Padres went liftoff with two homers in the sixth and two more in the …
Oh, whatever. No one reading this cares about this game. Let’s get to Pence’s speech, which I recorded.
This was intense, and filled with more expletives than most minute-long scenes from “Wolves of Wall Street.” The first half made it onto the CSN Bay Area airwaves uncensored, and Deadspin posted the video for posterity. But here’s the full-length, uncensored version — starting with Pence telling his teammates to take their goggles off because, “We earned this motherfucking burn.”
After Pence’s speech, he walked over and hugged Bruce Bochy. Then he stormed past me and yelled, “Playoffs, baby! GET SOME!” Suddenly, I was ready to pitch the eighth inning in Pittsburgh — well, mentally. OK, not at all. Anyhoo …
A little background on Pence’s “champion blood” reference:
“(Bochy) had a meeting with us, telling us this is our time when things were looking really bad. ‘You’ve got the champion blood.’ And it’s true. There’s a lot of champions in this clubhouse. We know what happens in the playoffs. There’s a couple guys that are going to be new to it that are big role players. Everyone in, let the dogs go at it,” said Pence, whose passion is almost unexplainable … I said “almost,” because he did a good job explaining.
“I try to use everything as motivation. Any last ounce, every fiber of my being. I try to dig to the depths of my soul for this game because it’s what I love. And whatever comes our way, the dream and the vision is to win a World Series. That’s what we come out for, that’s what we work for, so we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”
I was blown away after that speech. I had never heard anything like that in person, and definitely not from 10 feet away with champagne flying. But for the Giants, this is an everyday thing!
“That’s daily. That’s daily Pence. He knows what he’s talking about, man. He was intense. He’s a guy you want to go to war with. That’s what we like to talk about. I love him like a brother. He’s awesome,” said Andrew Susac.
“It’s normal for him,” Gregor Blanco said. “He always gives speeches whenever we feel a little down.”
Affeldt has a future as a minister himself, but he probably won’t be giving speeches like the one Pence made. But he said Pence’s energy serves a purpose in the Giants’ clubhouse.
“Hunter’s a rah-rah guy, man. I’m not really a rah-rah guy. We need to even that out. We don’t need to be always calm,” Affeldt said.
“He did it in 2012 with the speech and the seeds and all that stuff, and I think that’s what some of these guys need and have in them and it lets Hunter be who Hunter is. I think it does get us fired up. It gets me fired up. I’m not going to be the guy to necessarily do it, but it does get me fired up.”
The Giants seem pretty damned confident, and there was some Tim Lincecum stuff I haven’t covered, but it’s almost 1:30 am and you guys will probably just want to watch the Pence speech on replay anyway.