Game 7. The two best words in sports. The San Francisco Giants host the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night for a spot in the World Series. Here's everything you need to know before the first pitch (8:07 p.m. ET, Fox/ESPN Radio).
Night of the living undead
The Giants and Cardinals play what I refer to as Zombie Baseball -- they keep coming back when it looks like they're dead. Lots of statistics have been circulated since the Giants forced Game 7. Here are some of my favorite elimination-game factoids:
• With a win Monday night, the Cardinals would be the first team to win three winner-take-all games in the same postseason (wild card play-in, NLDS Game 5 and NLCS Game 7).
• Dating to the 2011 postseason, St. Louis has won its past six postseason elimination games.
• The Cardinals are 11-4 in Game 7s, best in baseball history (three or more games). You may recall that the Cardinals had a pretty spectacular Game 7 win in last year's World Series.
• After Sunday night's Game 6 win, San Francisco has won five consecutive elimination games this postseason.
• The Giants would be the first team since the 1985 Royals to win six elimination games in the same postseason.
• San Francisco is the fifth team in NLCS history to force Game 7 at home when trailing 3-2. The 2006 Mets were the last to pull it off -- against the Cardinals.
• Thirteen of the past 14 teams to force a Game 7 at home in any series after trailing 3-2 won Game 7. The only team that didn't win? The 2006 Mets.
• The Giants have never won a Game 7 in franchise history (130 seasons). They are 0-5 all time.
Each team sends its most reliable starter to the mound. Although Matt Cain hasn't looked like the ace who pitched a perfect game earlier this year (4.67 ERA in three postseason starts), there's nobody else Giants fans want to see in a Game 7 (#RallyZito and #RallyVogey aside). Kyle Lohse has impressed for the Cardinals (2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in three postseason starts) and looks to rebound from Game 3, when he walked five and gave up seven hits (yet only one run).
Posey ready to bust out?
The Giants' all-everything catcher, Buster Posey, is overdue for a big hit. His grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS lifted the Giants to victory over the Reds, but he's been quiet in the NLCS, going 3-for-22. Call me hokey, but I think he's going to come through in a big way Monday night. Marco Scutaro continues to rake, batting .458 with a 1.086 OPS in the NLCS, and he could be the series MVP. Isn't October the best? Some Cardinals players who have hit Cain well include Jon Jay (5-for-8 against Cain), Carlos Beltran (7-for-19 with a home run) and Matt Carpenter (5-for-6 with a home run). Carpenter isn't in the lineup -- Matt Holliday returns after missing Game 6 with a stiff back -- but is a key bat off the bench for St. Louis.
All hands on deck
We have to assume everybody in each team's bullpen will be available (and maybe even some starting pitchers), Wednesday's World Series Game 1 be damned. Both bullpens have been outstanding throughout the NLCS, and the closers -- the Cardinals' Jason Motte and the Giants' Sergio Romo -- have been lights-out. I give the slight edge to Romo because his striped orange-and-black high socks represent the best in the game.
Now that you're up-to-speed, enjoy Game 7 from AT&T Park. It does not get any better than this.
Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.