NLDS Game 3 Preview: Giants at Braves

October, 10, 2010
10/10/10
12:30
PM ET
This is the 23rd time since 1995 that a Divisional Series has been tied 1-1. How important is the win in Game 3? Consider that 27 of the 35 teams (77 percent) that have led a Division Series 2-1 have gone on to win the series. It's even more of an advantage in the National League in the Wild Card era. Teams taking a 2-1 lead in NLDS play have won the series 15 of 16 times. The only team to rebound from a 2-1 deficit and win was the 2002 San Francisco Giants, who eventually beat the Atlanta Braves in five games.

Neither team has had much success recently in Game 3s. The Giants have lost seven consecutive Game 3s, which is tied for the second-longest streak in postseason history; while the Braves have dropped three straight and six of their last eight Game 3s. It looks even bleaker for the Giants with the series headed to Atlanta. Not only has San Francisco lost five straight postseason road games, but the Braves had the best home record in the majors this season, going 56-25 and matching the franchise record for home wins.

The Braves will send Tim Hudson to the mound, who will be making his ninth career postseason start (10th career appearance) and first since 2005. Hudson is 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA overall in the playoffs, but just 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA in two starts as a Brave.

The Giants have tapped Jonathan Sanchez for Game 3, who is making his first career postseason start. But he's no stranger to pitching in pressure situations. Sanchez threw five scoreless innings a week ago as the Giants beat the Padres 3-0 to clinch the NL West and a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season.

While Braves ended up winning Game 2 thanks to Rick Ankiel's dramatic 11th inning home run, they also lost their closer Billy Wagner to a left oblique injury, and he is not available for Game 3, according to Bobby Cox.

So who closes for the Braves tonight? Kyle Farnesworth, who induced the game-saving double play with the bases loaded in the 10th inning, hasn't saved a game since 2008, but was 10-for-10 in the regular season for the Braves back in 2005. Or, they could turn to the rookie Craig Kimbrel, who has allowed just two runs while striking out 45 batters in 23⅓ career innings.

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