The Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals is the most intriguing matchup of the divisional round.
On one side of the field you have the Cardinals, the defending World Series champs who are coming off a thrilling—albeit controversial—win in the historic wild card play-in game.
On the other, you have the Nationals, the new powerhouse. They are young, talented, and are a fantastic story.
It's last year's top team vs. this year's top team.
If you had to choose one series to watch during the next week, this has to be the one. What follows is all the information you need to know to see Game 2 action on Monday afternoon.
Note: For a complete look at the playoff schedule and NLDS schedule, check out mlb.com.
What: Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Game 2
Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
When: Monday, October 8 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Nationals Player to Watch: Bryce Harper, CF
Were you really expecting anyone else?
Not only is Harper currently the Nationals' hottest player (.347 BA, .653 SLG, 17 hits, 3 homers, 12 runs, 8 RBI, 5 SB), but he's a freaking teenager with more flair than Jennifer Anniston in Office Space.
Harper is clearly talented. .270/.340/.477 with 22 homers, 59 RBI and 18 stolen bases for a 19-year-old is just, well, not normal.
The way he carries himself on the field, however, is what makes him a must-see player. Much like the honey badger, "he don't give an expletive."
Cardinals Player to Watch: Pete Kozma, SS
The Cardinals have a stacked lineup, as evidenced by their 4.72 runs per game (second in the NL) and .271 team batting average (also second). There are multiple players on this team that could easily be listed here.
So, naturally, we'll go with Pete Kozma.
Yes, all 6'0" and 170 pounds of him.
The 24-year-old has moved steadily through St. Louis' farm system since being drafted No. 18 overall in the 2007 draft, but considering he hit .214/.280/.289 in Triple-A last year and .232/.292/.355 this year, no one expected much from at the plate.
So, naturally, he's hitting .333/.383/.569 through 26 games in his first real major league stint (he had 22 plate appearances last season).
In addition to finding a living on base, Kozma has two homers and 12 RBI to pace the Cards over the past 14 days. He also destroyed the Nationals to the tune of seven hits and six RBI the last time these teams met for a three-game series.
Kozma has been a pleasant surprise for St. Louis at the end of an already solid lineup, and if he continues to provide this type of production, it's going to be hard for the talented Nationals pitching staff to slow down the Cards.
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