The winners of the last two World Series begin their matchup Sunday night as the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals square off in Game 1 of the National League Championship series at AT&T Park.
St. Louis sent the Washington Nationals, the team with the best record in the major leagues this season, home after coming back from a 6-0 deficit in Game 5 Friday night for a 9-7 victory and their second straight trip the NLCS.
Carlos Beltran and David Freese lead a Cardinals offense with four hitters who ticked above .300 in the division series against the Nationals. Beltran smacked two homeruns, three doubles, and drove in five, compiling a .444 average. Freese was just as strong with three doubles and eight hits in 19 at bats for a .421 average.
The Cardinals Game 5 comeback was impressive, but San Francisco has just as much experience with comebacks.
The Giants became the eighth team to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-five round, and the first to do it on the road, as they beat the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Division series.
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval hit a team-leading .333 in the divisional round, and knocked in three runs and two doubles in 21 at bats. MVP candidate Buster Posey’s average took a huge dip, but the all-start catcher hit two homeruns and drove in five runs to lead San Francisco.
Left-hander Madison Bumgarner will start for San Francisco. The 16-game winner lost Game 2 against Cincinnati, and both his starts against the Cardinals in the regular season. He compiled a 4.73 ERA with seven earned runs in 13 1/3 innings this season.
Righty Lance Lynn takes the mound for St. Louis in Game 1, and appeared in four games this postseason for a combined 3 2/3 innings of work. Most of his time on the mound was in Game 2 against the Nationals, when he gave up two homeruns and struck out five batters for the win.
The first-pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast by FOX.
Prediction: This series has all the ingredients for an epic showdown. Neither pitcher has been very impressive in the postseason, so there could be some scoring early and both managers will have to reach into their bullpens. Beltran will be the difference in Game and the Cardinals will take the early 1-0 lead.
Predicted Score: St. Louis 4, San Francisco 2