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2012 NLCS Preview: San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals

2012 NLCS Preview
Andy Lyons, Patrick McDermott / Getty Images

Baseball’s last two World Series champions face off for the National League pennant. The Cardinals and Giants advanced to the best-of-seven National League Championship Series by improbable and historic rallies over less-experienced opponents. Game 1 is set for Sunday night, as St. Louis’ Lance Lynn opposes San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner at AT&T Park. Here’s a preview of the 2012 NLCS:

History:
The teams split the 2012 regular season series, winning three games each. This is the third time they have met in the NLCS, with the Cardinals winning in 1987 and the Giants in 2002.

San Francisco Giants

Why They’ll Win:

Starting Pitching: Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Game 1 starter Madison Bumgarner all had 14 or more wins and an ERA under 3.50 in the regular season. They know how to run through a lineup and turn the ball over to the bullpen with a lead.

Buster Posey: The Giants’ phenomenal backstop was 10 for 21 with two home runs and six RBIs against St. Louis this year. Posey is this team’s superstar, and he can carry them if the need arises.

Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla: Opponents hit just .185 off Romo, while Casilla can flat out blow hitters away with his stuff. Having this duo at the back end of the bullpen allows manager Bruce Bochy to shorten games.

Why They Won’t:

Power Outage:San Francisco hit just 31 home runs at AT&T Park this year. Posey and Hunter Pence are the only two Giants with real power. If San Francisco falls behind the Cardinals, they won’t be able to get back into the game via the long ball.

St. Louis Cardinals

Why They’ll Win:

Clutch Hitting: As they demonstrated with a four-run, series-winning rally in the ninth inning of Game 5 against the Nationals, the Cardinals never give up on a game until the final out is recorded. The clutch hits come from up and down the batting order from Allen Craig, John Jay, David Freese and others.

Yadier Molina: From his eye-popping offensive numbers, like a .315 average and 22 homers, to his peerless defense, Molina is the key cog in the Cardinals’ machine. He delivers big hits and calls a superior game behind the plate regardless of the pitcher.

Chris Carpenter: Injured for most of the 2012 season, the Cardinals’ ace looked very healthy while shutting down the Nationals on Wednesday. His lifetime postseason record is 10-2. If Carpenter can beat the Giants twice in this series, it could give St. Louis the edge.

Why They Won’t:

Taxed Bullpen: St. Louis closer Jason Motte has blown seven saves this season. He and the rest of the Cardinals’ pen often have to pitch three innings or more a game. The workload may start to take its toll.

2012 NLCS Schedule

Best-of-seven

Game 1: Sunday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. (ET) at AT&T Park
Game 2: Monday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. (ET) at AT&T Park
Game 3: Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. (ET) at Busch Stadium
Game 4: Thursday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. (ET) at Busch Stadium
Game 5: Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. (ET) at Busch Stadium *
Game 6: Sunday, Oct. 21 TBD at AT&T Park *
Game 7: Monday, Oct. 22 TBD at AT&T Park *

* If necessary

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