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MLB Playoffs: Cardinals vs. Giants in 3rd NLCS Rematch

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MLB Playoffs: Cardinals vs. Giants in 3rd NLCS Rematch
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Mike Matheny, current Cardinals manager, is the only remaining face from the 2002 team who faced the Giants in the NLCS.

When the San Francisco Giants play host to the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Championship Series, both teams will be stepping into familiar territory.

Prior to 2012, the teams met twice in the NLCS, in 1987 and 2002.

The three series have a number of things in common:

1. Both teams advanced to the World Series and lost in seven games.

2. Each lost to a franchise that had never won a world championship.

3. In neither series did the National League team have home-field advantage. In 2012, this will not be the case as a result of the National League’s victory in the 2012 All-Star game.

Following is a brief recap of each NLCS meeting.

In 2002, the Cardinals and Giants met up to battle it out for a shot at the World Series. The Giants were dominant from Game 1.

The Cardinals dropped the first two games at home—a “cardinal no-no” in postseason baseball. They managed to edge out the first game in San Francisco, but from that point on they just couldn’t get the offense going enough to win.

The Giants won Games 4 and 5 by only one run each, taking the series by a 4-1 margin. That was all they needed for their shot at glory.

When they faced the Anaheim Angels for the World Series, the Giants hung close, but eventually lost it all in a decisive Game 7.

Who has the edge in the NLCS?

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The first time the two teams squared off in an NLCS was in 1987 and the series was much more exciting.

They alternated Games 1 through 4, but the Giants were up 3-2 after the final game of the series at Candlestick Park.

The Cardinals rallied upon their return to Busch Stadium to take Games 6 and 7 to win the series 4-3.

The Cardinals' trip to the World Series that year was no easier than the NLCS had been. They faced the Minnesota Twins who simply wouldn’t go down.

Each team won every home game in the series and the Twins finally won their franchise’s first world championship inside the Metrodome in front of a crowd of 55,376.

What are each team’s chances in 2012?

The Cardinals, who will be making their seventh NLCS appearance since 2000, will need to at least split in San Francisco because the return home will have them facing off against Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. The road won’t be easy, but that seems to be when the Cardinals are at their best.

The Giants, who will start and end the series on their home turf, will not have an easy road ahead of them either. While they will have home-field advantage, their two hottest pitchers won’t be on the mound and they will have to face Lance Lynn (18-7) and Chris Carpenter.

Carpenter may not have a regular-season win under his belt, but the Giants can’t take that for granted because he is a postseason machine. He loves the high-pressure situations, and even when he’s not on top of his game he still manages to find a way to win games.

Regardless, this NLCS matchup with a deeply rooted history between two of baseball’s most storied franchises will definitely be worth watching.

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