After several days in the League Division Series with four games played across 12 hours, we’ve now had two of the last three days with just one game being played. The days are going to seem so empty when there aren’t any games. Cue the obligatory A. Bartlett Giamatti quotation.
Before proceeding to the lone game on the schedule, I should add a little balance to something I said in a previous installment. I related the trivia fact that the Detroit Tigers are the only team to lose a World Series to the Chicago Cubs, in 1907 and 1908. It is also true and noteworthy that the Tigers are the last team to win a World Series against the Cubs, in 1945. Not that Tigers fans need such minutiae to cheer them up right now, but I thought I should mention it.
Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 F Cardinals 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 Giants 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 2 X 7 (Series tied 1-1) WPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Cardinals 17 22 20 6 5 8 2 2 1 Giants 25 5 8 48 3 3 0 1 X WPS Base: 172.9 Best Plays: 45.3 Last Play: 0.0 Grand Total: 218.2
A very good start to this game, but with the Giants’ big rally in the fourth, it shot its bolt. Large leads don’t sustain much excitement in the WPS system unless the trailing team is either chipping away or making strong rallies that fall just short of scoring. St. Louis did neither from the fifth on.
That’s not to say there wasn’t an interesting storyline to the game. In the first inning, Matt Holliday came crashing over second base into Marco Scutaro to break up a double play (which he almost didn’t, as Scutaro’s great throw to first was just late). Scutaro was hurt on the borderline-dirty play, and the sellout crowd on hand began taking it out on Holliday, thankfully with nothing but mounting boos for the rest of the night.
There was potential for something ugly—the umpires appeared to consult at one point over what to do if Ryan Vogelsong buzzed a pitch at Holliday—but it resolved itself far more appropriately in play on the field. When San Francisco put together its fourth-inning rally, the big hit was provided by Scutaro. His single got two runs home, and a misplay of the ball by none other than Holliday in left field allowed a third runner to score.
I am reminded strongly of the Bryce Harper/Cole Hamels incident early this season, when Harper shrugged off a plunking (later admitted to be deliberate) and got his revenge by stealing home on Hamels later that inning. The ending that time wasn’t quite so neat—the Nationals ended up losing big—and it wasn’t tidy this time, either, as Scutaro would leave the game after five innings to have his hip X-rayed. But his team was the big winner this time, and Holliday never got on base again after the first.
There was another umpiring controversy, though this one had minimal effect on the outcome. In the eighth, Jon Jay made a spectacular catch in right-center, then threw to first in hopes of doubling off Gregor Blanco. Allen Craig took the off-line throw and swiped Blanco on the shoulder as he swerved past, quite possibly leaving the baseline. The umpire called Blanco safe. This was directly responsible for one of the two runs the Giants tacked on that inning.
I’m not saying anything about the obvious need to expand the use of instant replay in baseball. I’m just saying.