SAN FRANCISCO The Giants were frustrated. The Giants wereangry. The Giants were aggrieved. They were inspired, too.
But most of all, the Giants were hopeful.
Hopeful that Marco Scutaro, their sensational secondbaseman, the bit player at the trade deadline who morphed into Rod Carew downthe stretch, and who somehow took the sting out of the Melky Cabrerasuspension, will not be lost to them because of a hip injury sustained in thefirst inning in Game 2 of the NLCS Monday night.
NEWS: Scutaro leaves early with hip injury
Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday would have been flaggedfor unnecessary roughness if he played for the Arizona Cardinals. But hisflying takeout slide of Scutaro at second base was deemed baseball-legal, ifnot overly aggressive.
As they say, players have a way of meting out justice on thefield. Scutaro did it with something better and buzzier than a pitch to theearhole. He stayed in the game long enough to single twice, including thetwo-run bolt with the bases loaded in the fourth inning that ended up clearingall three runs when Holliday, of all people, kicked it for an error.
Scutaro was taken out after five innings of the Giants 7-1victory, and although X-rays were negative, the Giants were sending him for anMRI exam on his left hip. An MRI would detect muscle strains or damage to otherstructures, such as the labrum.
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Well do some more tests and hope for the best, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy said. I can answer better tomorrow once hes evaluated.
Some questions could be answered right away, such as: Whatwas with that slide?
Bochy did what managers usually do. He protected his player.
I really think they got away with an illegal slide there,Bochy said. That rule was changed awhile back. And he didnt really hit dirtuntil he was past the bag. Marco was behind the bag and got smoked.
Its a shame somebody got hurt because of this. Thats moreof a rolling block and thats a big guy running.
At least one Giant was fuming after the play.
I was angry, center fielder Angel Pagan said. Not becauseI thought it was dirty. I havent seen a replay to judge anybody, but you getangry to lose a player like Scutaro. Ill die for my teammates. Hes a hugereason were here and Im just praying that hes OK.
Holliday made his remorse known right away. He talked tocatcher Buster Posey before his next at-bat, asking about Scutaro andacknowledging that he started his slide too late.
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Even Hollidays manager gave something of a half-heartedendorsement.
As I watched it live, it looked like it was a hard slide,Mike Matheny said. It didnt go out of the baseline to get him. I haventlooked at a replay, but we teach our guys to go hard. Play the game clean, playit hard and dont try to hurt anybody.
I hated to see that it ended up that way. Thats not how weplay the game. But we do go hard, but within the rules.
The Official Rules do support Bochys interpretation.According to Rule 6.05(m): A batter is out when a runner shall, in theumpires judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting tocatch a thrown ball or to throw the ball in an attempt to complete any play.
The official Comment under Rule 6.05(m) continues: Theobjective of this rule is to penalize an offensive team for deliberate,unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline forthe obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather thantrying to reach the base. Obviously, this is an umpires judgment play.
The comment mentions being out of the baseline but the ruleitself does not.
There are official rules and then there are unwritten ones.According to the Giants, despite his remorse, Holliday broke an unwritten rule.
And the Giants are conditioned to being a bit sensitive whenit comes to this kind of thing. You havent forgotten Scott Cousins, have you?
I dont think there was intent to hurt him, Posey said.But that doesnt take away from the fact it was a late slide.
It looked a little late to me, concurred Aubrey Huff.Youre in the playoffs and youll be amped up and its easy to lose track ofwhere you are or what youre doing.
Added Jeremy Affeldt: Were frustrated, but I know MattHolliday very, very well. Hes a good friend of mine. I can tell you hes not amalicious person. We saw the takeout and were like, Matt, thats prettyaggressive. But I saw him running off and I know him well enough to read hisfacial expression. I could tell he felt bad.
Hunter Pence, asked the umpteenth time about the play,finally started feigning ignorance.
What play? he said. There were a bunch of plays thataffected the outcome of the game.
Pence chose to focus on what it meant to see Scutaro stayout there, in obvious discomfort.
What he did was extremely inspiring, Pence said. We allknow whats at stake. This is playoff baseball and youll have to earneverything. I dont believe Holliday was trying to hurt anyone.
Pence also added that Scutaro was dealing with anotherunrelated nagging injury in recent days.
Im not exactly sure what it was, because hes too tough,Pence said. He wont show it.
RELATED: Mike Krukow on Holliday's slide -- 'It was a bush play'
Ryan Vogelsong said his first thought was to make a pitchand get everyone back in the dugout as soon as possible.
Just so they could take a better look at him and maybe getsome more honest answers, Vogelsong said. Because you know, when were outthere, hes not coming out of the game whether hes hurt or not.
He was playing it off pretty good, Vogelsong said. Butthey kept a close eye on him. He didnt want to come out of the game, even whenhe did.
Trainers gave Scutaro the hook after fiveinnings, when he acknowledged he was stiffening up and it was getting harder tomove. Sitting on a four-hour flight to St. Louis probably wont help, either.
This isnt the first time the Giants and Cardinals havecrossed abrupt paths at second base. Back in 1988, benches cleared in a game atBusch Stadium when Will Clark slid hard into second baseman Jose Oquendo a yearafter the Cards beat the Giants in the NLCS.
Clark, 24 years later, was in Scutaros corner.
VIDEO: Will Clark -- 'There's ways to get even'
Well, he went right over the bag, but it was also very,very late, said Clark, now a Giants special assistant who threw out the firstpitch of Game 1 on Sunday. Generally you try to slide before the bag. This wascompletely over the top.
As for a comparison to his play in 1988?
You mean with Mr. Oquendo? Clark said. Yeah, prettysimilar. I was a little more before the bag. He made contact on top of the bag.The fact is, its over the top of the bag. There was no attempt to slide intothe bag at all.
Replays of Clarks slide show he went very late into thebase, but he slid with his feet. He didnt throw a flying body block likeHolliday did.
Clark was asked if he took umbrage at Hollidays slide.
Now thats a big word, he said. Better watch out!
How about ticked off?
There you go, he said.
Almost a quarter-century ago, the Cardinals threw at Clark at their next opportunity. TheGiants did no such thing with Holliday, and given the magnitude of these games,they might not issue hardball justice until the regular season next year.Vogelsong said it wasnt a priority for him as he tried to maintain his focusand win to earn a split in the first two games here at AT&T Park.
Before, we took care of business on the field, Clark said.Its a little tougher to do that now. The games changed a little bit. Nowadaysyou see all the microphones and all the TV angles. And you see how manywarnings there are now. We didnt have that back then.
But theres ways to get even.
Scutaro found one. The Giants are just hoping the price wasnttoo dear.