SAN FRANCISCO -- On a night when Matt Holliday had to take a seat because of back tightness, the man he pummeled on the basepaths six days earlier, Marco Scutaro, was not only still standing but once again was standing tall.
Scutaro is on the verge of becoming the National League Championship Series MVP after getting a walk and two more hits Sunday night, including a two-out, two-run double in the second inning that broke open the Giants' 6-1 Game 6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The second baseman looked like he might be knocked out of the series on Holliday's Game 2 barrel-roll slide. But since suffering a hip bruise and knee soreness on that play, Scutaro is 9 for 19 with four RBIs and looking healthier every day. Holliday? He is 2 for 16 since the slide.
Scutaro has a hit in nine straight games in the postseason. He is hitting .458 in the series (11 for 24). And because of the rebound he has made from the Holliday hammering, hs has become the inspirational hero of the NLCS.
"Actually, I got a little fame from getting hit by Holliday," said Scutaro, smiling. "It's kind of weird."
The Giants have made it something of a public crusade in recent days to get the 36-year-old Scutaro to his first World Series. Scutaro gained a sense of what that would mean when he played for the A's in 2004.
"It was my first full year in the big leagues, and we ended up losing two out of three and didn't make it," he said. "I remember a couple guys who had like 10 years in the big leagues like (Mark) Kotsay with tears in their eyes. I was like, wow, these guys have already had a great career. They have money, they have everything. But they were crying because they weren't going to the playoffs. So I kind of learned that year how important it is to win in these situations."
Sunday, Scutaro got the Giants started toward victory by drawing a first-inning walk from Chris Carpenter. He moved to third on Pablo Sandoval's double and scored on Buster Posey's ground out to third. In the second, Scutaro ripped an inside fastball down the left-field line to score Brandon Crawford and Ryan Vogelsong.
That might have been the toughest chore Vogelsong had all night, scoring from first on Scutaro's hit.
"I was looking for the oxygen," he said. "I couldn't breathe."
"Sorry, brother," said Scutaro as he sat next to the winning pitcher at the postgame podium.
"You can do it any time, buddy," Vogelsong shot back. "I'll take it."
It has become more difficult by the day to come up with new ways to assess Scutaro's monumental contributions since joining the Giants in a trade with Colorado in July. Closer Sergio Romo gave it a run, though.
"Unreal," Romo said. "That was the blockbuster trade we made, that guy. He's been the bridge between the English and Spanish teammates, let alone an unbelievable leader by example on the field. Without him, we definitely wouldn't be in this position, and he's up there for team MVP, right beside Buster."
Vogelsong then took his turn.
"I'm just glad I don't have to face him anymore," he said. "I was not happy in the offseason when I saw Marco was going to Colorado and was going to be in our division. You know he's going to put a professional at-bat on you. He's going to battle you. And he's one of the best clutch hitters I've seen.
"I'm just glad he's with us now."