The 2010 Giants fought their way to the NLCS, only to come up against unstoppable killing machine Roy Halladay, the greatest pitcher in baseball. They had no chance to match the Phillies’ powerhouse offense. Then Cody Ross snuck up behind Halladay and beaned him with a fistful of quarters.
Those same Giants somehow managed to make it to the World Series, where they were met by Cliff Lee, an invincible demigod of postseason pitching. Pundits speculated on what miracle it would take for the Giants to win 4 of 5, as they obviously had no chance in either game against Lee. The Giants’ entire offense mugged Lee in a stairwell, and then when he came back for another round Edgar Renteria was waiting.
And then tonight it was a different Giants lineup coming to grips with the much-ballyhooed Chris Carpenter, a man with a 10-2 lifetime postseason record and immeasurable reserves of grit, moxie, gumption, etc. The Giants basically did this to him.
Of course, aiding the cause was the fact that there was a pitcher in the game whose resevoirs of internal piss-and-vinegar made him a force on the mound. It wasn’t Carpenter, though. Ryan Vogelsong, in the biggest start of his career to date, tested Joe Buck & Tim McCarver’s store of superlatives with seven innings of one-run ball. He pounded the corners, refused to throw hittable pitches behind in the count, and attempted to light the umpire on fire with his brain about sixteen times. If I was writing Giants fan fiction and had to invent a clutch Vogie start for the playoffs, this would’ve been it. Except the seventh inning would’ve featured a phoenix ascending from the sky above McCovey Cove, circling the field, and shitting on Matt Holliday’s shoulder.
The other big story of the game was Holliday’s takeout slide of Marco Scutaro at second base in the first inning. At a glance, it was the kind of play routinely described as “good hard baseball” because it can’t be described as “cheating.” The sport encourages athletes to play that way – demands it, even – so should we really be angry about it? Of course we should, because their huge galumphing high-paid guy slammed into our compact, gritty, (relatively) low-paid guy, and it could’ve seriously hurt him. So thank you, Matt Holliday, for pissing off the Giants – especially Angel Pagan, who made his displeasure known by crushing a non-sinking sinker into the cove – and giving Giants fans a good excuse to have strong feelings about the Cardinals.
Mind you, it was an easier pill to swallow when Scoots stayed in long enough to break the game open with a bases-loaded single which that Holliday promptly booted with all the grace and steadiness of Raul Ibanez drunk on vodka-Red Bulls. At press time, Scutaro’s precautionary X-rays are negative, and the Giants are cautiously optimistic. So that’s good, because Adventures In Fielding With Ryan Theriot isn’t really a playoffs kind of thing.
Anyway, the NLCS is tied at 1. The Giants clobbered another postseason ace. Scutaro’s probably okay. And the Cardinals aren’t just The Other Team now – they’re the enemy. They don’t have La Russa anymore, but they do have new-minted villain Matt Holliday, who makes a much better lightning rod than Carlos Beltran (who still hit really frigging well as a Giant) and a more direct one than whatever otherwordly imp is responsible for their success. Bruce Bochy just straight up said that it was an illegal slide. It’s gonna be a fun-as-hell series.
Also, Ryan Vogelsong, Giants’ postseason ace. Wrap that around your brain. Really let it sink into those neural crevices. Baseball, you beautiful, inexplicable harlot, keep being good to Vogey.