St Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants: Keys for Each Team in NLCS Game 7
The San Francisco Giants are trying to overtake the St. Louis Cardinals as the best team in baseball when their backs are against the wall.
The Giants are 5-0 in elimination games this October, and can earn their second trip to the World Series in three years with a sixth straight elimination game win on Monday night. Otherwise the Cardiac Cards are headed back to represent the National League for the second straight fall.
San Francisco will host St. Louis in Game 7 of the NLCS on Monday night in a winner-take-all matchup for the ages.
But before the first pitch is thrown, let's take a look at the biggest keys for each team.
Keys for the Giants
Keep the Pedal to the Metal
San Francisco has all the momentum in this championship series after seizing the last two games by a combined score of 11-1.
With the crowd cheering them on Monday night, the Giants will have no excuse not to be completely focused and energized before taking the field. Getting off to a fast start will be key.
Lean on Matt Cain
If San Francisco’s bats go cold at the worst time possible in Game 7, the Giants can rest easy knowing that they have their ace on the mound. Matt Cain has been sensational all season long and was the winning pitcher in San Francisco’s Game 5 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS.
Through three playoff games, Cain is sporting a 4.67 ERA with 11 strikeouts. He only allowed three earned runs in Game 3 in St. Louis in just under seven innings pitched. A similar performance in Game 7 would certainly be welcomed if San Francisco's offense gives him run support.
Keys for the Cardinals
Continue to Be Clutch
Although being clutch is easier said than done, the Cardinals have made a name for themselves by being clutch in big moments in big games. Just go back and look at their last series against the Washington Nationals. The Nats looked like they were on their way to the NLCS before St. Louis erupted on the road in the ninth inning to win a decisive Game 5.
Game 7 of the NLCS has Cardinals written all over it. St. Louis lives for these moments and will be the favorite in Monday's series-deciding game for that reason.
Who wins Game 7?
Score 3+ Runs
The Cardinals have not scored more than two runs in any of their five losses this postseason. Therefore the biggest key for St. Louis on Monday night will be to put at least three runs up on the board. The Cards are 7-0 in these playoffs when they score at least three runs.
With Kyle Lohse on the mound for St. Louis, it will have a great shot of keeping the game close. If the Cardinals' bats can come to life late against Matt Cain, then the NL Wild Card could very well be headed back to the World Series for the second straight year.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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