The final pitch of the Giants’ storybook 2021 regular season spun off Dominic Leone’s fingertips and landed in Buster’s Posey’s glove at the high and outside corner of the strike zone. San Diego’s Eric Hosmer swung through the 96.6 mph fastball, ending the Padres’ season and officially setting the Giants’ postseason into motion.
The team with middling preseason expectations, with veterans perceived past their prime, with a manager who got run out of Philadelphia, had dethroned the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time in eight years.
Leone clenched both his fists, gazed up to the sky and screamed so loudly his body shook. As his teammates ascended on him from the dugout, Leone offered up a hand for his batterymate Posey to shake.
He must’ve not gotten the Buster Posey hug memo.
“That guy’s a legend,” Leone said of Posey. “Guaranteed future Hall of Famer. That’s a moment I’m going to remember forever.”
Take a minute to dial up Youtube and watch the final pitches of the 2010, 2012, and 2014 seasons. Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo and Madison Bumgarner each have one thing in common: they received a bear hug from Posey.
Now Leone shares that, too.
“Well I’m sure I showed more emotion than most,” Leone said. “It doesn’t surprise me because Buster is so cool, calm and collected all the time. For him to show a little emotion was pretty cool. Just to be a part of that is unreal.”
Leone said he was “pumped” when he got called in the eighth inning to start warming for the ninth. Even in a blowout, he knew what this game meant.
Leone, like so many parts that have made the Giants the best bullpen in MLB, has been malleable all year. He opened multiple games in September when SF was down two starters. He’s one of five relievers to appear in every single inning, and he did it with a 1.54 ERA.
He earned the ninth.
“Just to be on the mound and close out a game like that, for me, is special,” Leone said. “It caps off a great year. But we’re not done.”