SAN FRANCISCO -- This clinch was a cinch.
Surely there will be heavy drama at some near point for the 2012 Giants, when the playoffs dawn and the pressure builds.
Surely there will be weird and unscripted moments to come.
But that was not the case Saturday night, which turned out to be a matter-of-fact end point to the Giants' unexpectedly speedy N.L. West conquest.
When the Giants beat San Diego 8-4, they officially captured the division, and yes, that triggered another rowdy celebration at AT&T Park.
For the last out of the game, Mark Kotsay lined a ball to Angel Pagan in center field, the players rushed the field, jumped in unison, and fireworks shot into the sky.
The players got excited. But they didn't go nutty. That's not quite the mood of this team, and that's not a bad thing.
"This is just Step 1 of what we want to accomplish this season," pitcher Matt Cain said in the champagne-soaked clubhouse.
They're a good team. They will be dangerous in the N.L. playoffs.
But however this turns out, this is a decidedly different kind of team than the 2010 World Series champions, and that was evident again Saturday.
Two years ago, the Giants needed a victory over the Padres on the final day of the season to clinch their playoff spot.
Each successive clinching was its own Baseball Mardi Gras, leading to World Series Game 5 and, of course, the thunderous Bay Area carnival that
The 2010 team was a thing of magic and mystery -- incredible pitching plus the once-in-a-lifetime alchemy of Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff, Brian Wilson, Cody Ross and Co.
Those guys partied like it, too.
The 2012 team is sturdier and more grounded, and it won the West in a much calmer fashion -- with 10 games left to play.
"There's a lot of cliches out there for this, but we're going to celebrate for a little bit," said first baseman Brandon Belt, whose eighth-inning homer all but sealed this one. "And then we know what we've got to do -- we've got a big job ahead of us.
"It's going to be a tough road. But it's going to be worth it in the end if we can kind of persevere and make it through and win the World Series."
There were definite moments of craziness on Saturday -- I saw Ryan Vogelsong and Pablo Sandoval showing that they're especially dangerous with champagne targeting.
But this team is very aware that there is a lot more to go on this journey, if they're up to it. The 2010 team was.
We'll see if this Giants iteration is also touched by destiny.
"What we've become during the season is very special," Pagan said amid all the drenchings. "It makes me want to go out there and play harder.
"We wanted to clinch whenever we could. But understand we have a lot of season left for us to get ready for the playoffs. That's what we've got to do -- this is just a step to get to the playoffs."
In this clincher, the Giants scored two runs in the first inning and never trailed. That sort of zaps the drama, right there.
And until the sixth, there was no tension in the air. It was all fun and frolic and Sandoval cartwheeling into the first row to catch a pop-up.
Then Yonder Alonso cranked a Madison Bumgarner fastball deep over the right-field wall, and suddenly the Giants' lead was down to 5-3 and Bumgarner was out of the game.
But the Giants picked up two more runs in the bottom of the inning thanks to some shaky Padres defense and yet another Marco Scutaro clutch hit.
So it was back to emotional cruise control at AT&T Park, and the final few outs had familiar echoes. The roaring crowd, the standing ovations, the splashy conclusion.
They want three more of these. They are a little calmer about it and more focused about it, and they accomplished Step 1 incredibly efficiently.
The next stages will be tougher, but they almost might be more fun, too.