The Giants? They had adversity this season? Is that true? When?
It seems so long ago now, after what happened these last three St. Louis games. Giant starters Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain allowed one run in their final 20? innings pitched. That's a combined 0.44 earned run average in three elimination games. An 0.44 ERA! When the pressure was the greatest, the three pitchers posted numbers you typically only see in high school baseball.
"Barry showed us the way and we just followed," said Vogelsong of Zito's seven and two-thirds performance in Game 5. "Barry showed us how to attack the hitters and attack early."
Yes, it was the aggression we saw in those three games. The Cardinals, after all, were supposed a carbon copy of the Giants. Resilient. Tough. No quit. No loss of composure. It made for a good storyline — until the Giants sucked the very life out of a team that was supposed to be as hot and as tenacious as they were.
The Cardinals? Never say die? Sorry. They died. Expired in a wither. They died at the hand, er, three hands of a lefty and two righties. By the time Monday night and Game 7 rolled around, the Cardinals swung at pitches outside of the strike zone, missed ones right down the middle of the plate and botched, really botched, balls on the infield and in the outfield. Right in front of our eyes, much to the shock of Cardinal fans and their team as well, St. Louis unraveled.
You almost felt embarrassed for them. Almost.
And then Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro — the NLCS's MVP — said what he said in the post-game locker room and restored perspective.
In the downpour, with the rain coming down so hard in that Cardinal ninth, Scutaro looked up, drunk a million raindrops and a second later caught Matt Holliday's infield pop for the last out of the game.
"I just kept telling myself, &‘Don't you let it drop'," Scutaro said. "I just wanted to catch the last out."
Those two sentences then set up the defining sentence, for Scutaro and for the 2012 Giants.
It was Holliday who slid into Scutaro at second base in Game Two, knocking down the second baseman, causing the AT&T crowd to deliver heavy vocal criticism. Scutaro didn't gripe, went about rehabbing that injured hip.
But now, Marco, you caught the last out and it was off Holliday's bat. How do you feel about that? "How do you like me now?" Scutaro said.
Actually, it was more like a yelp and as close to in an your-face as the veteran will ever get. Yes, it was a smack-down all right. To the victors goes the smack-down. How do you like me now Cardinals? Better put, how. do you like the Giants now?
"I never saw this coming," said Giants bullpen coach Mark Gardner.
Gardner was referring to the 9-0 final score, the kind of game that if it happened in spring training, Giants manager Bruce Bochy would have pulled his starters by the fifth inning. Utterly complete and convincing. And, to be fair, disappointing as well. The way this LCS had set up, it was going to a Game 7 and it would go down to the last inning. So it was disappointing the Cardinals didn't put up more of a fight.