- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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The Cardinals and Giants haven't exactly played a series for the ages -- not with scores of 7-1, 8-3, 5-0 and 6-1 and no one-run games. We haven't had a tie score past three innings and every game ended up decided by the fourth. But we have a Game 7 and there's nothing in sports like the pressure and intensity of a Game 7.
If the trend of the first six games continues, the early innings will thus be important and the two managers can't let the game get away early. Kyle Lohse and Matt Cain are the starters and it's that rare Game 7 where each team's ace draws the start. Still, I expect Mike Matheny and Bruce Bochy to have a fairly early hook on their starters, although Matheny has a little deeper bullpen to employ.
Will we get a classic Game 7? Can the Giants become the seventh team to win a league championship series after trailing three games to one? Check out Buster Olney's list of the 18 greatest Game 7s (including World Series and LCS) and Mark Simon's piece on some of the keys to the game.
Meanwhile, here's a quick look back at the past 10 Game 7s.
2011 World Series: Cardinals 6, Rangers 2
Starters: Chris Carpenter versus Matt Harrison
Key hit: David Freese two-run double in first to tie score.
Key move: With the Cards up 3-2 in the fifth, Ron Washington intentionally walked Freese to load the bases with two outs. Scott Feldman walked Yadier Molina to force in one run and then C.J. Wilson hit Rafael Furcal to force in another. The Cardinals scored two runs -- without getting a hit.
Rating: One star. Little drama and that ugly fifth inning that featured three walks and two hit batters.
2008 ALCS: Rays 3, Red Sox 1
Starters: Matt Garza versus Jon Lester
Key hit: Willy Aybar's home run in the seventh gives Tampa a two-run cushion.
Key move: Boston's roster construction left no good right-handed bat off the bench. Rookie David Price fanned J.D. Drew with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth and Mark Kotsay struck out against Price in the ninth.
Rating: Three stars. The Rays used five pitchers to get through the eighth inning, with Price eventually picking up his first major league save.
2007 ALCS: Red Sox 11, Indians 2
Starters: Daisuke Matsuzaka versus Jake Westbrook
Key hit: Dustin Pedroia's two-run homer in seventh off Rafael Betancourt gives Red Sox a 5-2 lead. They add six more runs in the eighth.
Key move: Terry Francona pulled Dice-K after five innings -- even though in atypical Dice-K fashion he hadn't walked a batter. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon each threw two scoreless innings.
Rating: Two stars. Close game until Red Sox blew it open late.
2006 NLCS: Cardinals 3, Mets 1
Starters: Jeff Suppan versus Oliver Perez
Key hit: Yadier Molina's two-run homer off Aaron Heilman in the ninth.
Key move: Tied 1-1 in the sixth, the Mets put runners at second and third with one out after a walk and throwing error. Tony La Russa had Suppan intentionally walk Shawn Green. Jose Valentin struck out and Endy Chavez flied out.
Rating: Four stars. From Perez as the unlikely Game 7 starter (he had a 6.55 ERA that year) to Chavez's all-time great catch to rob Scott Rolen of a home run to Adam Wainwright striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to end it, this game was full of suspense all the way.
2004 ALCS: Red Sox 10, Yankees 3
Starters: Derek Lowe versus Kevin Brown
Key hit: Johnny Damon's grand slam off Javier Vazquez in the second.
Key move: After scrambling to win the three previous games to force a seventh game, Terry Francona has to start Lowe on two days' rest and he delivers six one-hit innings.
Rating: Three stars. It wasn't a great game as the Sox blew out the Yanks early, but the history involved made it a dramatic finale.
2004 NLCS: Cardinals 5, Astros 2
Starters: Jeff Suppan versus Roger Clemens
Key hit: Scott Rolen's two-out, two-run homer in the sixth gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead.
Key move: Roger Cedeno pinch hits for Suppan leading off the sixth and starts a three-run rally.
Rating: Three stars. All three runs in the sixth came with two outs as Albert Pujols hit an RBI double ahead of Rolen's homer.
2003 ALCS: Yankees 6, Red Sox 5 (11)
Starters: Roger Clemens versus Pedro Martinez
Key hit: Aaron Boone wins it with a home run off Tim Wakefield.
Key move: Grady Little leaves in a tiring Martinez to throw 123 pitches as the Yankees tie it with three runs in the eighth.
Rating: Five stars. On the short list of greatest games ever played. Who can forget the tears in Joe Torre's eyes as he huggged Mariano Rivera?
2003 NLCS: Marlins 9, Cubs 6
Starters: Mark Redman versus Kerry Wood
Key hit: Ivan Rodriguez doubles in a run to help set up a three-run inning as the Marlins take a 6-5 lead in the fifth.
Key move: Jack McKeon brings in Josh Beckett, the Game 5 starter, and he pitches four innings of one-hit, one-run relief.
Rating: Three stars. Everybody remembers Game 6, but few remember that the Cubs had a lead in this one as well.
2002 World Series: Angels 4, Giants 1
Starters: John Lackey versus Livan Hernandez
Key hit: Garret Anderson's bases-loaded double in the third plates three runs and gives Angels a 4-1 lead.
Key move: Hernandez had been bombed in Game 3 and some felt Dusty Baker should have started Kirk Rueter (who would pitch four scoreless innings in relief).
Rating: Two stars. Angels win only title but no runs are scored after the third inning.
2001 World Series: Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2
Starters: Curt Schilling versus Roger Clemens
Key hit: Luis Gonzalez's blooper wins it but Tony Womack's double down the right-field line tied it up.
Key move: After Mark Grace leads off the ninth with a single, Mariano Rivera fields a bunt and instead of taking the easy out at first base, tries for the out at second and throws the ball away. Rivera has made only six errors in the regular season in his career.
Rating: Five stars. This game had it all -- two potential Hall of Fame starters, all the drama leading up to it and then the unlikely Game 7 comeback.