Cardinals consider Holliday's slide hard, not dirty

October 16, 2012, 5:15 am
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SAN FRANCISCO Its not the Giants vs. the Dodgers, butthis National League Championship matchup includes a history of bad bloodbetween the two teams.Just ask Will Clark, Jose Oquendo and Ozzie Smith. The youngsters can Googlethat threesome for an important history lesson.In Game 2 between the Giants and Cardinals Monday at AT&T Park, MattHolliday took a figurative baton from the recently vanquished Mat Latos tobecome Public Enemy No. 1 in San Francisco. After singling with a man on and one out in the first inning, Holliday hustledfrom first to second to break up a potential double play. Instead of slidingwell in advance of the bag, Holliday hit the ground late and collided withGiants second baseman Marco Scutaro as he tried to complete the relay throw tofirst.In hindsight I wish I had started my slide a step earlier,but you know its happening fast, Holliday said after the Giants beat hisCardinals 7-1 to even up the best-of-seven series.Scutaro was wincing as he detangled himself from Hollidayand immediately received attention from his teammates, head trainer DaveGroeschner and manager Bruce Bochy. After taking some time to walk around theedge of the outfield grass, Scutaro stayed in the game and exacted some revengewith a single in the bottom half of the first. But that was nothing compared to the bullet he sent inHollidays direction that broke the game wide open.After the Giants took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, they loaded the baseswith two outs and Scutaro at the dish. The 36-year-old midseason acquisitionthat compiled a whopping 88 hits in 61 games as a Giant drove ChrisCarpenters 1-1 sinker into left-centerfield. A clean single that shouldve ledto just two runs ended up clearing the bases when Holliday couldnt comeup with the ball cleanly. Scutaro made matters worse for Holliday when he movedup to second base on the error.Holiday was curt in his explanation of the mistake: Yeah, Ijust missed it.He also acted like he expected Scutaro to come through in the clutch.It doesnt surprise me at all. Hes a great player. Heshad an unbelievable second half and has come up with huge hits for them.Scutaro was replaced by Ryan Theriot to open the sixthinning with what the Giants announced as a left hip injury and was sent for X-rays,leaving Holliday to answer more questions about the play in question.I hope hes OK, Holliday said. I know him. Hes a goodguy and I wasnt obviously trying to do anything other than keep us out of adouble play Every run in the postseason is huge. The only regret I have is Ishould have started my slide a step earlier so that I wouldnt have ended up ontop of him.A remorseful Holliday said he asked Scutaro if he was OK in the immediateaftermath of the collision. He also said he spoke with Giants catcher BusterPosey at home plate before his next at-bat.I just told him to tell Marco that I wish I had started myslide a step earlier and that I wish he was OK, Holliday said. I just wantedhim to know that I wasnt trying to hurt him He told me hed tell him.Hollidays questionable slide was a major talking point inthe Giants clubhouse, but his Cardinals teammates were quick to defend theirstar outfielder.You have to give Matt the benefit of the doubt because hesnot a dirty player, said Lance Berkman, who also acknowledged that his locker neighbor in the visitor's clubhouse was late to slide. He plays hard, but I think hes well respected in the game and Ithink the other side knows that. Said third baseman David Freese: I did not see it and I have yet to see it.Holliday plays hard and thats all I can say.St. Louis second baseman Daniel Descalso offered his perspective as a fellowmiddle-infielder that has been involved in similar situations:As a second baseman, Ive been hit hard many times and itjust comes with the territory. You dont like getting hit. Its not fun to gethit. But if you hang in there on double plays, sometimes youre going to getwhacked. Its just part of the game.Descalso added that he was impressed with Scutaros ability to complete therelay throw, even if it didnt get to Brandon Belt at first in time.A good second baseman is going to hang in there, likeScutaro did. And he did a great job of hanging onto the ball and making a goodthrow to first base. A lot of guys would throw the ball in the dirt and maybe arun scores, which is why you go in hard at second base, especially with a guyon second. If he throws it away, thats a run for us.The idea that a run may have scored if Holliday forced Scutaro to make anerrant throw is what the Cardinals are leaning on to consider the slide a hardbaseball play, not a dirty one.Im not a dirty player, Holliday said. I wish I had startedmy slide a hair earlier, a step earlier, but when youre out there in the heatof the moment, youre trying to make sure he doesnt complete the double play.I play hard and was trying to take a double play. Thats really all it comesdown to. People can say what they want. I hope hes OK.Cardinals manager Mike Matheny stuck to the hard not dirty script.As I watched it live it looked like it was a hard slide. Itdidnt go out of the baseline to get him. We teach our guys to go hard. Playthe game clean, play it hard, not try and hurt anybody. And I hated to see thatit ended up that way. Thats not how we play the game. But we do go hard, butwithin the rules.The unwritten rules of baseball suggest Holliday could be in for a pitch aimed forhis head at some point over the next three games in St. Louis. If they take exception to it we really cant say anything because it was pastthe bag, even though I dont think he had any intention of hurting Scutaro,Berkman said.Cardinals centerfielder Jon Jay said the team isntconcerned with potential retaliation.Im not worried about that. Were just worried about going out there andplaying hard.For Holliday and the Cardinals, the bigger concern is a brand new best-of-fiveseries and a date with Matt Cain in Game 3.Hes a great pitcher; I expect a battle, said Holliday,who is 8-for-40 with three home runs in his career against Cain. Were goingto have to work hard to try and get runners in, just like we do with the restof their staff. They have good pitching, thats why theyre here, and that willbe a challenge for us.

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