The San Francisco Giants have returned to baseball’s elite, and a Bahamian is right in the midst.
Antoan Richardson, in his second year as the first-base coach of the San Francisco Giants under second-year manager Gabe Kapler, enjoyed a celebratory night with the team on Monday as they clinched a spot in the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs.
The Giants took down their division rival San Diego Padres, 9-1, on Monday night, winning comfortably in front of 21,000 fans on their home field at Oracle Park in San Francisco, California. They belted four home-runs in the game, got a strong combined pitching effort, and cruised to a season-high eighth straight win and a major league-leading 94th of the season. Soon afterwards, the hugs commenced, and the champagne started to flow in San Francisco’s clubhouse, signaling a remarkable accomplishment for a team that most analysts had finishing in the middle of the pack this season.
The Giants had a 94-50 win/loss record going into last night’s game against the Padres – two and a half games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League (NL) West Division. The third-place Padres were 16 back going into last night’s game. The Giants are already assured of their best record in 18 seasons, and are returning to the playoffs for the first time in five years. It’s the earliest date they have ever clinched a trip to the postseason.
“That was really exciting,” said Richardson of the clinching win on Monday night. “We enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate with each other. One of the goals at the start of the year is always to get into the playoffs, but we know that this is just step one. Three is more than we want to accomplish. We want to go out there and keep our feet on the gas pedal.”
The Giants are one of the more successful franchises of the 21st century in the majors, and certainly the team of the 2010s, with three World Series titles this millennium – all in a five-year span from 2010 to 2014. They won once every two years during that span.
Richardson said they aren’t done yet. They became the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season, but they also want to win the division title, go into the playoffs on a strong note, and continue their winning ways straight into the Fall Classic. Winning a World Series title is a realistic goal for the Giants this season. For Richardson, it would be the first time in his career, either as a player or a coach, that he experiences a run to the World Series. In fact, he is about to experience a playoff run with a major league cub for the first time.
“This is special. We’re excited, but we know that this is just step one. There is more work that we want to do,” said Richardson. “In this moment, we just want to pause and take an hour or two and enjoy this accomplishment.”
The Giants have their nemesis, the Dodgers, right on their heels in the NL West Division. They won the season series 10-9 and could likely face them in the postseason.
“We have to be ready. The plan right now is to go out there and keep winning baseball games and win our division. After that, when we get to the playoffs we want to go as far as we can into October,” said Richardson. “This is an exciting time. As a group, we just believed in each other from the beginning. No one had predicted us to win more than 75 games, and to come into this season and play the way we did, winning 94 games and counting, it shows that we were focused and believed in ourselves. To reach this accomplishment in such a tough division says a lot.”
The NL West Division could realistically put three teams in the playoffs this year with the Giants already confirmed, the Dodgers about two games from clinching, and the Padres just a half game behind the final wild card spot going into last night’s games. The Giants won six out of 10 games against the Padres this season going into last night’s game.
Collectively, the Giants are second in the majors in home-runs at 217, second in team ERA (earned run average) at 3.26, and are leading the league in saves at 51. Their starting pitching and bullpen has been a major reason for their success this season.
For Richardson, the Bahamian is enjoying the ride and is looking forward to the rest of the season and the postseason.
The Giants finish off their four-game series against the Padres at Oracle Park this week, and then stay home for three games against the Atlanta Braves on the weekend, before facing off against the Padres again next week.
There is less than three weeks remaining in the season, and then the playoffs get underway. The Giants are looking to keep the best record in the league which would give them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and into the World Series.
The 2021 World Series gets underway on October 26.