Wednesday, October 17, 2012
ST. LOUIS — Giants manager Bruce Bochy expects Marco Scutaro to be in his lineup card for Game 3 of the NL championship series, two days after St. Louis slugger Matt Holliday plowed into the San Francisco second baseman.
“I think so. It feels much better,” Scutaro said Tuesday night after participating in a workout at Busch Stadium. “I thought it was going to be worse. Normally, the next day is when you feel it the most.”
Neither seemed too interested in any talk of retaliation.
“What’s on our mind is to go out and play our best ball,” Bochy said Tuesday night, a day before the best-of-seven series resumes at Busch Stadium with the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals tied at one game apiece. “That’s over. You have to move on.”
Scutaro said a shutout from Matt Cain would be perfect and knew nothing about get-even plans. If Matt Holliday approached him before the game, he joked that the Cardinals slugger would be in for a fight.
The recollection of the play was vivid.
“All of a sudden, I just saw this train coming,” he said. “I didn’t have time to do pretty much anything. I don’t even know how I threw the ball to first, but I think I did, huh?”
He added that if Holliday had slid any farther, “probably you’re going to make it to shortstop.”
Results of an MRI exam showed Scutaro has a strained left hip after Holliday’s late slide while busting up a double play. Bochy said Scutaro also had a sore left knee, and the manager had planned on holding him out of practice after the team flight arrived from the West Coast.
“We’re being hopeful he can go,” Bochy said. “I will say he’s more optimistic about where he’s at right now than when it first happened.”
Cain, who will face fellow 16-game winner Kyle Lohse, said little about any possible animosity. Cain added that he wouldn’t be afraid to throw inside against Holliday.
“You’ve got to go out there and pitch your game,” Cain said. “If something gets away from me inside, that’s kind of part of the game. You can’t have a fear of doing that.”
The 36-year-old Scutaro was an unexpected find for the Giants, batting .362 with 40 runs and 44 RBIs in 61 games after being acquired in late July from the Rockies for a minor league infielder. He’s batting .250 with three RBIs in the playoffs, but has stepped it up in the NLCS, going 4 for 8 with two RBIs.
“He’s driven in a lot of two-out runs and gotten rallies going for us as well,” Cain said. “He’s been really, really big for us.”
Bochy reiterated his opinion that Holliday had made an “illegal slide,” but said he hadn’t talked with St. Louis manager Mike Matheny or anyone else on the Cardinals.
“I don’t think there was intent, to be honest, hurting somebody,” Bochy said. “But it was late. Marco was behind the bag, he really didn’t hit dirt until he got behind the base.
“And the second baseman, he’s in a position there where there can be some damage done, as we saw. He came out of this plenty good considering how hard he got hit.”
Added Scutaro: “I don’t know too much about sliding rules, but I think it was a little late. I don’t think he was intentionally doing it.”
Scutaro came out of Game 2 in the fifth inning because he was having trouble running, particularly side to side. He said his leg had gone numb, too.
Pain in the left knee developed on Tuesday, and Scutaro said both the hip and knee were stiff during the workout. If he can’t start, Ryan Theriot would play second.
St. Louis didn’t work out Tuesday after a late-night return flight to the Midwest. The exception was a 49-pitch simulated game by Jake Westbrook, who is recovering from a strained right oblique and is hopeful of rejoining the staff if St. Louis makes it to the World Series.
After Game 2, Holliday said he relayed an apology of sorts to Giants catcher Busty Posey before his next at-bat.
“I told Buster to tell Marco I wish I had started my slide a step earlier,” Holliday said. “I wanted him to know I wasn’t trying to hurt him. When a guy has to leave the game, I feel bad.”
Holliday also defended his hard-nosed approach.
“When I’m at first and see a grounder to short, I’m just trying to make sure they can’t turn the double play,” Holliday said. “He was right on second base. I hope he’s OK. He’s a good guy.”
Back at home, where Holliday will get cheers instead of boos, Matheny said what happened is just part of the game.
“To me, what I see is a guy who I’ve never seen one act of trying to hurt anybody,” Matheny said. “And I would never believe that’s what he was trying to do. I know what Matt’s intentions were and he was thinking about his team at the time.”
Lohse hopes to end a string of early exits for Cardinals starters in Game 3. He’s all about efficiency, avoiding extended at-bats and letting hitters get themselves out.
St. Louis has gone three straight games without a starter getting an out in the fifth inning. Matheny said travel days during the postseason lessen the burden and keep pitchers fresh. Still, he’d rather not keep making those early trips to the mound.
“You have strong starting pitching, you have an opportunity to be successful,” Matheny said. “Otherwise, you’re fighting an uphill battle all the time and it seems like you’re constantly coming back.”
Lohse needed just 87 pitches to complete a strong seven-inning outing his last time out. He did not get a decision in a 2-1 loss to the Nationals in Game 4 of the NL division series. Lohse worked six innings or longer and threw fewer than 100 pitches 11 times during the regular season.
“It’s not really a secret: I rely on getting first-pitch strikes, getting ahead of the guys and making them hit my pitch,” Lohse said. “That’s my version of pitching to contact. I’m not out there trying to strike guys out. I want them out in three or four pitches and move on.”
He’ll try not to carry any extra burden into this start.
“We’ve had our ups and downs as the rotation goes,” Lohse said. “You can’t put more pressure on yourself to go out there and do more. I can’t go out there and try to throw seven innings all at once.”
Cain was ex-Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s choice as the NL All-Star game starter in July. The right-hander hasn’t gone deep in either of his postseason starts, giving up six runs over 10 2-3 innings.
Cain struggled against the Cardinals this year, going 1-1 with a 6.94 ERA in two starts, and is 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA overall in eight starts.
Cain recalled a start in 2006 or ‘07 when Albert Pujols “took me to Big Mac Land.”
“I haven’t had a ton of starts in this ballpark,” Cain said. “I think the biggest thing is just making good pitches, and at times I didn’t make good pitches against these guys.”
The Giants’ probable pitchers for Games 4 and 5 remain “TBA” for now according to Bochy, who said he’d reveal his choices after Game 3 depending on who he used in that game.
“I have not named a starter, really, because I don’t have to right now,” Bochy said. “That’s my biggest reason. And we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”