Melky baby, you’re money

            See, Shawn Estes. That’s how you do it.

            While Melky Cabrera is swiftly reaching sensation status in San Francisco, it’s only a matter of time before milk-carton hats join the ranks of the panda and giraffe lids, mark my words. Sunday’s 3-2 win clinched a third consecutive .500-or-above road trip for the Giants, and Cabrera’s 4-for-4 performance was the orange-and-black icing on the cake.

            Maybe it’s just something about “M” cities, because the burgeoning switch-hitting superstar had a brilliant road trip through Milwaukee and Miami, going 14 for 31 while hitting safely in six of seven games. But, it was one iron-man style jaunt from second to third on Sunday that has me considering adopting Cabrera as my personal hero.

            In addition to his four-hit day, Cabrera stole two bases. His fourth-inning swipe didn’t even elicit a throw from Marlins catcher John Buck. His eighth-inning steal did warrant a throw, an errant one that allowed Cabrera to get up and go to third, but not before second baseman Omar Infante took a chunk out of Cabrera’s lower lip as his head-first slide was met with a brutal swipe tag that nailed him in the face.

            Without hesitation, Cabrera sprung to his feet and sprinted for third, while several times taking inventory by grabbing his jaw and lower lip. After safely advancing, he asked for time, and took a minute or two to regroup.

            Sigh. A textbook base-running clinic – never to be taken for granted by longtime Giants fans. Woe, how we’re still bitter about Shawn Estes’ base-running debacle from Game 2 of the 2000 NLDS.

            For those who need a refresher course, Estes made a critical base-running blunder at second base with the momentum of a scoreless game hanging in the balance in that playoff game with the Mets. And keep in mind, Estes wasn’t your atypical pitcher on the base paths, having been utilized as a pinch runner regularly throughout the season.

            But, when Estes advanced from first to second on an infield single by Bill Mueller, he twisted his ankle upon sliding. All Estes had to do was ask second base umpire Dan Morrison for time. But, he didn’t. Instead, he started hobbling about in pain, allowing Mets shortstop Mike Bordick to nonchalantly tag out the wincing Estes for the second out of the inning.

            What’s worse, Estes never even looked frustrated or surprised at being called out. Granted, he did leave the game with an alleged ankle injury. However, even if you’re dealing with some freak kind of ankle fracture, it seems reasonable to think that anyone living and breathing the fervor of a playoff game would at least have the presence of mind to yell “time” amid one’s barrage of f-bombs.

            Now, with Cabrera’s stalwart effort on Sunday, perhaps the old-school Giants faithful can find some solace from wondering time after time, What might have been? And, we can definitely rest assured that Shawn Estes – tucked safely away at the Comcast postgame desk with his epidemic of intermittent bed-head – can never irreparably wound us during a playoff run again.

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