12/22/12 10:00 AM ET
Giants getting Scutaro is year's top 'Blockbuster'
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
It certainly reflected Scutaro's importance to the Giants' success. Nicknamed "The Blockbuster" by his teammates for his impact after San Francisco acquired him from Colorado on July 27 for Minor League infielder Charlie Culberson, Scutaro performed as the Giants hoped while delivering the Series-clinching run.Watching Scutaro settle into the batter's box against Detroit left-hander Phil Coke, Cain pondered the possibility of the 11-year veteran producing once more. "I was thinking, 'I hope he hasn't used up all of his mojo.'" Cain said. "He's come through for us so many times that we just expected him to do it again. And that's exactly what he did." Giants right-hander Sergio Romo shared Cain's mindset as he warmed up in the bullpen. Romo was told that he would enter the game if the Giants forged ahead. Thus, he considered himself almost certain to pitch the bottom of the 10th as Scutaro batted. "He's 'Blockbuster' for a reason," Romo said of Scutaro, the second baseman who hit .362 with the Giants, including .400 (28-for-70) with runners in scoring position. "He had gotten so many big hits for us up to that point. It's hard to lack faith in a man like that." Scutaro maintained his usual approach. The man who swung and missed at only 15 pitches in 61 regular-season games with the Giants took a first-pitch strike from Coke, then let three balls go by. Many hitters also might have taken Coke's next pitch, a 93-mph fastball which appeared to border the strike zone. But, as Posey said of Scutaro, "He's patiently aggressive." Scutaro knew that Coke didn't want to walk him, given Pablo Sandoval's presence on deck. Sandoval belted three homers in Game 1 and ultimately earned World Series MVP honors. Coke was behind on the count, increasing the likelihood that he'd throw a fastball. So Scutaro was ready for the 3-1 delivery that was high but not too elevated, outside but not too wide. He punched it cleanly into center field on a hop, scoring Theriot from second base. Admitting that he felt "jumpy" earlier in the game, Scutaro managed to summon his equilibrium before batting in the 10th. "I just tried to stay calm and see the ball, and I came through," Scutaro said. "Thank God." Scutaro, 37, usually doesn't describe his at-bats in greater detail than that. A .276 lifetime hitter who batted a career-best .306 in 2012, he strives for simplicity at the plate. He demonstrated his skill most vividly against St. Louis in the National League Championship Series, when he batted .500 (14-for-28) against St. Louis to win series MVP honors. "When you need a hit, that's the type of hitter you like up there -- a guy who's disciplined, uses the whole field and finds a way to get a good part of the bat on the ball," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He has a short, compact swing. All he wants to do is make solid contact. He doesn't try to do too much." Scutaro will spend the foreseeable future continuing to show the Giants why less is more. They ended his brief foray into free agency by signing him to a three-year, $20 million contract in early December. Besides contributing on the field, Scutaro serves as a positive influence in the clubhouse. "He's the consummate professional," Posey said. "He comes to work every day having a plan. I think a lot of people gravitate to that and gravitate to him. At the same time, we saw really quickly that he was a good guy and he was somebody you could joke around with. Just all around a good teammate. He was a huge lift for us." The feeling was mutual.
"All those guys in there, I love every single one," Scutaro said of his teammates after the National League Championship Series ended.Among the memories they made together, his conclusive Series hit obviously ranks No. 1.
"I pretty much think about it every day," Scutaro admitted.That hit didn't attain superstar status for Scutaro, but his level of fame may have inched upward. Scutaro related that while recently tending to a passport issue for one of his daughters at the U.S. Embassy in Miami, he was asked by a security guard, "Where have I seen you before?" Flashing his dry wit, Scutaro said he told the guard, 'Probably Hollywood.' " He definitely guaranteed himself a leading role with the Giants.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.