Maybe Next Year...

What could have been different?

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 03: Miguel Tejada #10 of the San Diego Padres looks during the sixth inning agains the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on October 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    Jonathan Sanchez pitched the San Francisco Giants back into the playoffs after a six-year absence, beating the San Diego Padres 3-0 Sunday to wrap up the NL West title.
     
    The Giants finally got it done -- on their third try against the Padres this weekend -- and captured their first division crown and playoff berth since 2003.

    San Francisco will host the wild-card Atlanta Braves starting Thursday at AT&T Park, with ace Tim Lincecum well rested to go Game 1. The Braves beat the Phillies 8-7 earlier in the day, extending manager Bobby Cox's farewell season.
     
    Two NL playoff races came down to Game 162.

    San Diego missed a chance to force a Monday playoff with the Giants at Petco Park to decide the West winner. The loser of that would have flown to Atlanta to determine the wild card had there been a three-way tie.

    Pablo Sandoval and other Giants players waved orange towels atop the Giants' dugout steps after closer Brian Wilson's first two pitches were strikes to Will Venable with two outs in the ninth.

    When Venable struck out swinging, rookie catcher Buster Posey ran out to Wilson and they jumped together at the mound. The rest of the Giants joined them and gray NL West champion shirts were quickly handed out.

    The Giants then took a victory lap along the outfield warning track, slapping hands with fans leaning over the fence. Manager Bruce
    Bochy brought up the rear of the lap around the field, tipping his cap and waving it over and over again.

    The Padres players stayed put at the railing of their dugout watching the celebration in disappointment.