Giants clinch Wild Card, then wait to celebrate

Brewers loss puts SF in postseason before victory over Padres

Giants clinch Wild Card, then wait to celebrate

SAN FRANCISCO -- Winners of two of the last four World Series, the Giants have seen champagne celebrations become commonplace in their clubhouse. Thursday night's was different, though.

The Giants clinched a National League Wild Card spot in the playoffs Thursday by virtue of the Brewers dropping their early afternoon game to the Reds, 5-3. So win or lose, champagne awaited in the clubhouse. A late-inning rally prevented any damper on the festivities, as the Giants knocked off the Padres in a slugfest, 9-8.

Then came the party.

After manager Bruce Bochy addressed the team, a fired-up Hunter Pence began the festivities with some colorful language in his pump-up speech, hailing his teammates for their accomplishments thus far and battling through the numerous injuries that have hampered the roster, and reminded them of the tremendous opportunity that awaits.

While the celebration was old hat for many of the team's veterans, its brightest two rookies were just trying to soak it all in -- literally.

"You never know until you're in it, but wow," second baseman Joe Panik said right before being drenched in champagne, "this is awesome."

Fellow rookie Andrew Susac had been hoping such a party would be thrown since Spring Training.

"It's unreal, man, unreal," Susac said. "The fact that we can do this [four] more times is very motivating.

"It's a good chemistry on this team. Everyone loves each other, we treat each other like brothers. Hunter really pressed that issue in Spring Training to make sure that everyone is rooting for each other and is all in."

San Francisco can still climb ahead of Pittsburgh for the top Wild Card slot, which would give it home-field advantage for the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday.

The Giants currently sit a game behind Pittsburgh, and they would lose a potential tiebreaker, meaning the Pirates have a magic number of two to clinch home field for the Wild Card game.

The winner of that game would play the top division winner starting Oct. 3. The Nationals and Dodgers are vying for the top seed in the NL.

Like Susac, Pence saw Thursday night's celebration as motivation.

"It's like the carrot in front of the horse. When you set out in Spring Training, all your work is planting that seed that you'll be pouring champagne on each other," Pence explained prior to the game. "That's the dream. The dream is to do that as many times as you can -- that's why it's there. That's the thrill.

"To me, the more you can enjoy the accomplishments and make the best of it, the better. I think it's a tremendous accomplishment of everyone to make the playoffs, and I think we get an opportunity now to have the most [champagne celebrations] you can possibly have, so I'm all right with that."

Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.