SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey wore the usual flat expression on his face for 161 games, but the emotions were flowing Sunday at Oracle Park, and not just after the final pitch.
Posey punctuated the 27th out by raising both his arms to the sky and then rushing out for a #BusterHug with Dominic Leone, who was very happy to be on the receiving end. But a couple hours earlier, there was a show of emotion that caught the eye of president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.
After the 11-4 win that clinched an NL West title, Zaidi said he was thrilled to see Posey's emphatic reaction to a two-run single in the third inning that he called the "biggest moment in a season with many moments."
"We had some trouble scoring runs the last few games. We knew that it was important to get on the board early," Zaidi said. "That was just awesome to see, somebody like that, that has that kind of low-key demeanor even though he's seen a lot and been so successful. You see that (reaction) and you know that these guys have been waiting a while to get back to a moment like this. It's got to be really validating for them."
Posey waited five years, to be exact. After building a Hall of Fame résumé with three titles in his first five seasons, Posey has had a lot of free time in October. His last playoff game is Game 4 of the 2016 NLDS, and because he opted out of the 2020 season, he wasn't on the field during the final series last year as the Giants were fighting to sneak into the playoffs.
Posey had two hits and drove in three runs in his biggest start in years. The two-run single with the bases loaded in the third gave the Giants a lead they never relinquished.
Posey was two games on, one off for most of the year, but on the final homestand, he and manager Gabe Kapler pushed down on the gas pedal. Posey started five of the final six games and pinch-hit in the other one. He went 7-for-18 with six RBI the final week, but he admitted Sunday that the stretch took a lot out of him.
"I'm a little tired right now," the 34-year-old said, smiling.
That will change before the next time he takes the field. The Giants will hold optional workouts this week as they prepare for Friday's Game 1 of the NLDS, and they have four days off to rest their bodies. That'll be needed after they won 107 games and still had to wait until the season's final day to clinch the division.
It was a stressful final weekend, but Posey said he made sure to soak it all in, too. He said what stood out to him about Game 162 was the moment he got to look up at the stands after the game and see 37,000 fans celebrating together.
"It made me really happy. It made me happy to see people sharing moments together like this," Posey said. "I think that's obviously what's so great about sports is it allows people, families, communities to come together. What the whole world has endured the last two years, having to really just isolate, it was a great feeling to see everybody enjoying the moment together."