A look at the National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals:
Game 1: Saturday, 5 p.m.
San Francisco (Bumgarner 18-10, 2.98) at St. Louis (Wainwright 20-9, 2.38)
Game 2: Sunday, 5 p.m.
San Francisco (Peavy 6-4, 2.17) at St. Louis (Lynn 15-10, 2.74)
Game 3: Tuesday 1 p.m.
St. Louis (Lackey 3-3, 4.30) at San Francisco (Hudson 9-13, 3.57)
Game 4: Wednesday 5 p.m.
St. Louis (Miller 10-9, 3.74) at San Francisco (Vogelsong 8-13, 4.00)
*Game 5: Thursday, 5 p.m.
St. Louis (Wainwright) at San Francisco (Bumgarner)
*Game 6: Oct. 18, 1 p.m. or 5 p.m.
San Francisco (Peavy) at St. Louis (Lynn)
*Game 7: Oct. 19, 5:30 p.m.
San Francisco (Hudson) at St. Louis (Lackey)
*-if necessary; all times Pacific
Pos; SAN FRANCISCO; AVG.; HR; RBI
CF; Gregor Blanco; .260; 5; 38
2B; Joe Panik; .305; 1; 18
C; Buster Posey; .311; 22; 89
3B; Pablo Sandoval; .279; 16; 73
RF; Hunter Pence; .277; 20; 74
1B; Brandon Belt; .243; 12; 27
LF; Travis Ishikawa; .274; 2; 15
SS; Brandon Crawford; .246; 10; 69
Pos; ST. LOUIS; AVG.; HR; RBI
3B; Matt Carpenter; .272; 8; 59
RF; Randal Grichuk; .245; 3; 8
LF; Matt Holliday; .272; 20; 90
SS; Jhonny Peralta; .263; 21; 75
1B; Matt Adams; .288; 15; 68
C; Yadier Molina; .282; 7; 38
CF; Jon Jay; .303; 3; 46
2B; Kolten Wong; .249; 12; 42
KEYS TO THE SERIES
The X factor in this series is Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, generally acknowledged as the best pitcher in the National League not named Clayton Kershaw. The Cardinals' stunning uprising against Kershaw in Game 1 of the division series obscured Wainwright's miserable day. He gave up six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings, and St. Louis was concerned enough about his sore elbow to tell Lance Lynn to be ready to start a potential Game 5 if Wainwright could not. Wainwright insists he is good to go in the NLCS opener. As insurance, the Cardinals have stashed Michael Wacha, the MVP of last year's NLCS, in the bullpen for this series.
The Cardinals have baseball's best catcher, Yadier Molina, but his usefulness should be minimized in this series because the Giants stole the fewest bases of any NL team. The Cardinals stole the second-fewest bases; the Dodgers' Dee Gordon alone had more steals than either of these teams.
The Cardinals also ranked last in the NL in home runs, although they hit seven in their four-game NLDS victory over the Dodgers. Third baseman Matt Carpenter, who hit one home run in August and one in September, hit three in the division series. The Giants could get a power jolt from left fielder Michael Morse, who is expected to return for this series. He has played one game since Aug. 31, hampered by a strained oblique, and Manager Bruce Bochy said Morse would be on the bench for Game 1.
St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal was erratic in the NLDS, with six runners reaching base in three innings. The Giants used Santiago Casilla as a setup man and Sergio Romo as closer in their 2012 NLCS victory over the Cardinals.
Buster Posey, the Giants' best hitter, is batting .391 this postseason. He batted .154 in the 2012 NLCS; San Francisco beat St. Louis in seven games anyway. This one could go either way, but we'll give the edge to the team with Bochy as its manager.