The San Francisco Giants are going to the playoffs for the first time since the ill-fated 2003 campaign.
And the tortuous 2010 regular season really couldn't have ended any other way.
When the Giants swept the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this week, the clincher seemed like a formality.
Of course, the San Diego Padres came to AT&T Park and pushed the lads to the brink of another cataclysmic failure. Memories of the 1989 Bay Bridge Series sweep, the face-plant at the end of the Last Pure Pennant Race in 1993, the 2002 horror against the Anaheim Angels, and all the ugliness before, after, and in between nagged at the edges of the City Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
Thankfully, Jonathan Sanchez danced through self-induced raindrops, using five strikeouts to neutralize five free passes, three hits, and stifle the Friars in Game 162. He then completed a script that even Tinsel Town wouldn't write when he started the decisive rally with only his eighth hit and second run scored of the whole year.
His one-out triple to the right-center gap in the third inning couldn't have been imagined by even the most optimistic of the faithful. The big hits from grizzled veterans Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff that followed were more expected.
With the southpaw on third, the two rock-steady pros delivered in the biggest moments of their long-suffering careers.
After Andres Torres whiffed for out No. 2, the second baseman plated the first run of the game with a single that simultaneously gave the Gents their first lead of the afternoon and entire three-gamer. Huff followed with a double to center that fell just beyond the diving Chris Denorfia and scored Freddy from first.
Buster Posey and Brian Wilson would ice the cake.
A solo big fly from the rookie in the bottom of the eighth gave the closer an insurance run that he wouldn't need. Wilson eliminated San Diego with unsettling ease considering all the indigestion he's inflicted on the Bay Area, retiring the side in order.
The last swinging strike of '10 triggered a celebration that's still going, but San Francisco will have to get back to business soon when the Atlanta Braves come calling at AT&T Park on Thursday.
Here are 10 reasons the party might last a little deeper into October: