Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday slides into second knocking over… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)
ST. LOUIS — The suspense comes early Wednesday.
As the home team comes to bat in the first inning, all eyes will be on Matt Holliday. Just how comfortable should he get in the batter's box?
When the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals last met, on Monday, Holliday injured San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro with a slide so rough that Giants Manager Bruce Bochy called it "illegal."
Scutaro hopes to play in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday, despite soreness in his left hip and left knee. Once the Giants were assured Scutaro had not suffered a major injury, they took on the issue of whether retaliation might be in order.
With the best-of-seven series tied at one game apiece, San Francisco starter Matt Cain could throw high and tight to Holliday in the first inning. The Giants could then get on with the game and consider the matter settled.
That would run two risks: one, the Cardinals might not agree; two, the umpires might not agree, and they could issue warnings or ejections.
That, frankly, is too big a risk for the Giants. They desperately need a shutdown start from Cain, not an early exit, not with their most reliable long reliever — Tim Lincecum — in line to start Game 4.
Little wonder, then, that Bochy all but announced his team would not retaliate, glaring at a reporter who wondered whether the Holliday incident would fuel the Giants on Wednesday.
"It's over," Bochy said.
Cain said he would throw inside as desired, no matter what the umpires might say.
"If something gets away from you inside, that's part of the game," Cain said. "You've got to be able to pitch inside, and you've got to be able to pitch away. You can't have a fear with doing that."
Scutaro worked out with the Giants on Tuesday, after doctors diagnosed him with what Bochy said was a strained and bruised left hip and a sore left knee. After the slide, Scutaro said, he felt as if someone had pulled his hip apart. He eventually left the game after experiencing what he said was numbness in his left leg and difficulty with lateral movement.
"I was just happy nothing real bad happened," he said. "I've still got my leg there."
Scutaro said he did not recall the details of the impact — "I just saw this train coming," he said — and did not believe Holliday intended to injure him. He has not yet talked with Holliday but said he appreciated that he sent messages checking on his condition.
"That was kind of nice to hear from him after he tried to kick my ass," Scutaro said, smiling.
Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny said Holliday did not slide with malice.
"He was trying to play the game hard and trying to break up a double play," Matheny said.
Holliday said after Monday's game that he was simply trying to break up a double play and probably should have slid sooner. That, Scutaro said, would have enabled him to stop at the bag instead of barreling past it.
Scutaro, asked how he wanted his pitchers to stand up for him in Game 3, had a direct answer.
"I want them to throw a nine-inning shutout," he said, "so we win."