With one controversial slide, Holliday breathed fire into the life of his opponents. The San Francisco Giants are angry, furious and newly determined.
They also are even. Holliday might have injured San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro, but not before Scutaro could limp around the field long enough to deliver the knockout blow in the Giants' 7-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.
The National League Championship Series is tied at one game apiece, with Game 3 on Wednesday in St. Louis.
The Giants do not yet know if Scutaro suffered a serious injury when Holliday slid past the bag and rolled into their second baseman. They do know who to blame if Scutaro — a .362 hitter after the Giants acquired him in July — cannot play Wednesday.
"I don't think the intent was to hurt him," San Francisco catcher Buster Posey said. "That doesn't take away from the fact it was a late slide."
Giants Manager Bruce Bochy minced no words.
"I really think they got away with an illegal slide there," Bochy said.
The star was Ryan Vogelsong, who held St. Louis to one run and four hits over seven innings, becoming the first Giants pitcher to last even six innings this postseason. The hero was Scutaro, whose bases-loaded single skipped past Holliday — of course — to turn a 2-1 Giants lead into 5-1 in the fourth inning.
Giants outfielder Hunter Pence would not say he believed in the baseball gods.
"I do believe in God," he said. "I do believe in karma."
The game had barely gotten underway when Holliday had the slide that might define this series. With one out in the top of the first inning, and Carlos Beltran on second and Holliday on first, Allen Craig grounded to San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Scutaro took the throw from Crawford and took a step behind the bag, set for the relay to first and the attempt to complete the double play.
Holliday, trying to break it up, slid past the bag with his right elbow high and rolled into Scutaro.
Scutaro's left leg bent awkwardly, and he crumpled to the ground in pain. He remained in the game, but he left after five innings with what the Giants called an injured left hip. Bochy said X-rays were negative; the Giants expect results of an MRI examination Tuesday.
During the game, Holliday asked Posey how Scutaro was feeling. After the game, Holliday said, he tried to get in touch with Scutaro, who had left the ballpark for tests.
Holliday said he wished he had started his slide sooner.
"I wish I wouldn't have landed on him," Holliday said. "I was just trying to keep him from making the play. I hope he's OK.
"I weigh 250 pounds. When I get going . . . it's part of the game. I wasn't trying to hurt him."
The Giants were not entirely forgiving.
"You're supposed to slide into the base," Giants coach Ron Wotus said. "When you slide beyond the base, it really puts a player in harm's way."
Said Posey: "If you watch the replay, it's pretty obvious he didn't hit the dirt before the bag."
The fired-up Giants chased St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter in the fourth. If this were the regular season, Holliday might have gotten a brushback pitch. No sense risking a suspension in the playoffs.
Then again, the MRI results are not in yet. Tune in Wednesday.