10/03/2002 8:49 pm ET
Where the series stands
By Jared Hoffman / MLB.com
The phrase "must-win game" is sometimes tossed about prematurely in the postseason, but it certainly applies to Arizona going into Game 3. The defending World Series champions are one loss away from being eliminated from the playoff picture.
St. Louis might be under more pressure to win Game 3 than any other team up two games-to-none in a best-of-five series. Because if they cannot beat starter Miguel Batista (8-9, 4.29 ERA) on Saturday, they will face a second helping of Randy Johnson-Curt Schilling in games 4 and 5. Although the Cards have survived the first round of Arizona's Big Two, it's certainly conceivable to think Arizona could put together a three game-winning streak if Batista gets it started.
That said, the Cardinals return to St. Louis in a great position -- though Scott Rolen's status is a major concern. They've gone up 2-0 in three other best-of-five series -- the 1982 NLCS against Atlanta, the 1996 NLDS against San Diego and the 2000 NLDS against Atlanta -- and each time completed a sweep. Those were all accomplished by winning the first two games at home. This time they went up 2-0 the hard way -- by winning the first two road games.
Arizona was swept in a three-game series in their only appearance at Busch Stadium this season. The Diamondbacks' 43-38 road record was the worst of any of the NL playoff teams and they lost 12 of their last 16 games played away from Bank One Ballpark.
St. Louis, which has won 13 of its last 15 games at Busch Stadium, has now won 23 of their last 27 games dating back to the regular season.
See you in St. Louis.
Jared Hoffman is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.