Sarah's Take: Scutaro can inspire Giants

Sarah's Take: Scutaro can inspire Giants

Sarah's Take: Scutaro can inspire Giants
An ill-timed slide by St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday in the first inning of the second game of the National League Championship Series might have changed the momentum of the exciting series. Heading back to St. Louis, both the Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants have a win apiece.

In the first game of the series, the Giants didn't appear to have the necessary fire to advance to the World Series. Oh yes, they scored four runs in the fourth inning of the first game to prevent a lopsided loss, but they didn't appear to believe that they could win the game after Madison Bumgarner had another terrible start.

NLCS

The second game of the NLCS didn't start well for the Giants. Throughout the postseason, they haven't had good starting pitching. Ryan Vogelsong had two runners on base with only one out in the first. The likelihood of the Cardinals scoring was great, and overcoming another deficit might have been too much for the Giants.

Allen Craig, the Cardinals' first baseman and cleanup hitter, hit a slow ground ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford. The ball was hit so weakly that it was highly doubtful the Giants could turn a double play unless they made a magnificent defensive play. Crawford made a perfect underhanded toss to his second baseman, Marco Scutaro. Holliday, known for playing hard, slid late and knocked down Scutaro. Despite being knocked down and shaken up, Scutaro made a perfect throw to first base, just missing completing the double play.

Every baseball fan enjoys watching a hard-nosed player who will do anything to help his team win within the rules of the game. However, when a player does something to intentionally hurt another player, he should not be applauded for his hustle. Holliday was out of line when he attempted to break up the double play. He began his slide right over second base instead of before the bag. His momentum carried him into Scutaro, a much smaller man than Holliday.

Breaking up a potential double play is within the baseball rules and expected from every player. Second basemen don't have much protection from this, so they are taught to use the bag as their protection. They should stay behind the base so that the bag slows down the incoming runner's momentum. Scutaro was totally behind the bag, and if Holliday slid when he was supposed to, no one would have been injured.

Scutaro, although he remained in the game until the beginning of the sixth and delivered a bases-clearing single that the Cardinals couldn't recover from, had X-rays on his injured hip. If he can't play again during the NLCS, this puts the Giants at a real disadvantage and diminishes the exciting level of play.

Scutaro didn't start the season with the Giants. He played for the Colorado Rockies and proved that his advanced age (36) didn't affect his play. In a rare intradivisional trade at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Giants obtained the hitting-machine Scutaro. For the rest of the season, Scutaro, who batted .362 in 61 games with San Franccisco, combined with Angel Pagan to give the Giants a dynamic duo at the top of their lineup and enabled the team to get early leads. Scutaro had the eighth-highest batting average overall (.306) in the NL. He also stabilized the Giants' infield defense.

Losing Scutaro for any game during the NLCS significantly weakens the Giants. Ryan Theriot is their reserve second baseman. Although Theriot has adequate baseball skills and playoff experience (with the 2011 World Series champion Cardinals), he doesn't belong in the same class as Scutaro. Theriot won't hit like Scutaro and doesn't have the same fielding prowess.

The possible injury to Scutaro seemed to fuel the Giants. Vogelsong allowed just one run in seven innings, giving the bullpen a much-needed and much-deserved rest. Everyone in the Giants' lineup contributed to the final score despite facing Cardinals postseason veteran Chris Carpenter. When Holliday came to hit in his next at-bat after the controversial play at second base, the huge crowd at AT&T Park loudly booed him, showing their baseball knowledge and support for Scutaro.

The NLCS moves to St. Louis, where the Cardinals had a 50-31 record that was tied for the best in the NL. However, the Giants scored the most runs on the road in the NL and have ace Matt Cain pitching Wednesday. If Scutaro can play, the Giants should keep their momentum thanks to Holliday. If Scutaro can't go, San Francisco should have inspiration from him because he stayed in the game for five innings and had two hits while being injured.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.