SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Holliday's barrel-roll into Marco Scutaro wasn't the first time a hard slide into second base sparked hard feelings between the Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.
On July 24, 1988, former Giants star Will Clark was involved in a play at Busch Stadium that was eerily similar to what happened Monday night in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
"Very similar," Clark said Monday night. "It was probably the same, if you want to know the honest God's truth."
The Giants and Cardinals had engaged in a bitter seven-game NLCS in 1987, won by St. Louis. The following summer, the Giants came to town and the rivalry went to a new level.
Clark went in hard at second base attempting to break up a double play and upended Cardinals second baseman Jose Oquendo, touching off one of the most memorable brawls in Giants history. With St. Louis infielders pummeling Clark, the Giants, most notably outfielders Dusty Baker and Candy Maldonado, rushed to his defense. There ensued a full-tilt melee in the middle of the diamond.
Monday night, Clark, now a Giants executive, drew a distinction between his slide and that of Holliday.
"I slid a little bit before the bag," he said. "We made contact over the bag. I was expecting Oquendo to jump across the bag and he did. And I got him. On this play (Holliday's), there was no attempt to slide into the bag. It was way past the bag."
Replays showed Clark sliding far past second base to take out Oquendo, but it was more of a conventional feet-first slide. Holliday took out Scutaro with a rolling block.
Clean play, or ditry?
"It was clean because it was over the top of the bag," Clark said. "But it was also very, very late."
Back in 1988, Clark said, the Cardinals sought immediate retribution. The next man to bat, Mike Aldrete -- he's now a Cardinal coach, as is Oquendo -- had to duck a high-and-tight pitch. Clark said he was targeted with a pitch later in the series.
"I knew I was going to get drilled sooner or later," he said. "Nowadays there are difference circumstances. Before, we took care of business on the field. It's a little tougher to do that now because of the all the warnings. But there's ways to get even."
Clark noted that it was Scutaro who broke open the game with a two-run single to left, and that Holliday misplayed the ball to allow a third run come home.
"There's definitely baseball gods," said Clark. "There's a reason why he hits the (single) and Holliday boots the ball. Baseball gods shine."