Bochy declares takout slide on Scutaro 'illegal'


Bochy declares takout slide on Scutaro 'illegal'


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.

BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Giants bounce back, even series

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.

RELATED: Cardinals consider Holliday's slide hard, not dirty

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.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies


SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.