Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It all comes down to this.
The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals will play a deciding Game 7
in the National League Championship Series on Monday at AT&T Park.
Everyone seems to be throwing bouquets the Cardinals' way for their resiliency
this postseason, but how about the never-say-die attitude of the Giants? They
improved to 5-0 in elimination games on Sunday behind seven solid innings from
Ryan Vogelsong and two hits and two RBI from Marco Scutaro in a 6-1 win to save
"He was on top of his game again," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of
Vogelsong said. "He's got great stuff. When he's locating, he's tough, and (he)
had it going on again tonight and really was going in and out and had his good
off-speed pitches going."
San Francisco, of course, fought back from a 2-0 deficit to overtake
Cincinnati in the best-of-five NLDS and has evened this set with two
consecutive wins, beginning with a 5-0 triumph in St. Louis in Friday's Game
The Giants, who lost to the Cardinals in a winner-take-all Game 7 in the 1987
NLCS, are trying to become just the third team in NLCS history to rally from a
3-1 series deficit to advance to the World Series.
"We've had our backs to the wall, both teams have, and you're seeing a great
series here," Bochy said. "That's good for baseball, a seventh game. You look
at the first series, all the games went five games. This is what makes this
game even more exciting."
History could be on the side of San Francisco on Monday, as going back to
1976, a home team has won Game 6 of a best-of-seven series, forcing a Game 7,
on 12 occasions. The home team has then gone on to win Game 7 as well in 11 of
However, the only exception to that rule was the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS,
as they lost Game 6 at Shea Stadium and then won Game 7 against the Mets. That
was also the last time the NLCS was decided by a seventh game.
Unfortunately for St. Louis, no team has won Game 7 of an LCS on the road
after losing the previous contest. The last time any team won Game 7 of a
postseason series after losing Game 6 was in the historic 1975 World Series,
when the Cincinnati Reds overcame a game-winning homer by Carlton Fisk in Game
6 to defeat the Boston Red Sox in the final game.
"It's one game, winner take all. Whatever happened today is going to have no
effect on what happens tomorrow," Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso
said after Game 6. "We won a one-game playoff in Atlanta. We won a big Game 5
in Washington. And now before we move on, we have to win a Game 7 here."
But, the Giants have never won a Game 7 of any kind, most recently falling to
the Angels in the 2002 World Series.
The Cardinals will be playing in their major league record 16th Game 7 and own
an 11-4 record in such contests. Of course, the Cardinals won their 11th World
Series title a year ago by besting Texas in a Game 7. They've also won their
last three Game 7s since losing to Atlanta in the 1996 NLCS.
"I don't think you're going to see a choke factor," St. Louis veteran Lance
Berkman said. "I think you'll see two teams competing at a high level."
No matter who wins on Monday, the real winner may be the Detroit Tigers, who
have been idle since Friday and will have ace Justin Verlander raring to go on
Wednesday when the 108th Fall Classic gets underway.
Hoping to give the Giants their first-ever Game 7 win will be right-hander
Matt Cain, who has lost two of his three starts this postseason, including his
Game 3 start against the Cardinals.
"I wouldn't say we like it, but it seems like guys are playing really well
when we get in this situation," said Cain. "Guys are just kind of letting it
all hang out and it seems to be working out really well."
Cain gave up three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings of that one and has
pitched to a 4.67 ERA in these playoffs.
"You almost have to revert back to when you were in Little League, because the
game is about having fun," Cain said. "Sometimes when you put too much on it,
it kind of ruins the moment for you. You don't end up playing as well as you'd
like to if you put too much pressure on yourself."
Cain, a 16-game winner with a perfect game to his credit this season, will be
opposed by St. Louis' Kyle Lohse, who is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA this season. Lohse
beat Cain and the Giants in Game 3, holding San Francisco to a run and seven
hits in 5 2/3 frames. He also walked five batters in the win.
"I don't think we look at that as pressure," Lohse said. "I don't think we
care about that, to be honest with you. We're focused on right now, what can
we do to get back there? History doesn't play any part of it for us. They
obviously have got a good crew over there. They've shown that they can play
pretty well with their backs up against the wall, too. I don't think we're too
worried about anybody's past, because we've both shown we can be pretty
resilient when our backs are up against the wall."
St. Louis may be without outfielder Matt Holliday, who was scratched from the
lineup on Sunday with tightness in his back.
"It's been bothering him for a while, and we talked today and he said it felt
better," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said shortly before first pitch. "He's
adamant that he can play, but I was watching him take BP, and he's really
having a hard time finishing (his swing)."
If Holliday, a 222 hitter with one home run and seven RBI this postseason, is
unable to go, Matheny will likely employ the same lineup he used on Sunday
with Allen Craig moving to left field and hitting fourth, and Matt Carpenter
playing first and batting second. Right-fielder Carlos Beltran would then hit
third in that scenario.
"We'll see," Matheny said, "when we get here tomorrow."
PREDICTION: SAN FRANCISCO, 8-3
The Sports Network