10/12/2002 8:55 pm ET
Cardinals-Giants: The big picture
By Jared Hoffman / MLB.com
The Cardinals went to San Francisco knowing that in order to get the series back to St. Louis, they would have to win at least two out of three games. They got half of what they needed with a 5-4 victory Saturday in Game 3.
The Cardinals can turn this into a best-of-three series with a victory in Game 4 on Sunday. If the Giants win, they'll take a commanding three-games-to-one lead and have a chance to wrap up the series at Pacific Bell Park on Monday in Game 5.
Each team will try to achieve its goal behind a starting pitcher who at some point in the season wasn't even sure if he would be with his respective team.
Andy Benes had all but filed his retirement papers after a horrendous April, but re-emerged with the team in July. His 1.86 ERA in the second half was the best of any starting pitcher in the NL. He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in a start since coming back. Although he went only 4 2/3 innings in his Division Series start vs. Arizona, he allowed only two hits.
Livan Hernandez was 6-10 with a 4.94 ERA at the All-Star break and a popular name in trade rumors. He put together a strong second half and helped the Giants stave off elimination against Atlanta in the NLDS by allowing just three runs in 8 1/3 innings in Game 4. Hernandez is 6-0 with a 3.53 ERA in his postseason career.
The Cardinals are trying to become the first team since the LCS went to a best-of-seven format in 1985 to lose the first two games at home and come back to win the series. They'll need to start getting some production from Tino Martinez, who is 1-for-22 in the postseason and has left a staggering 18 men on base.
The Giants are trying to get to the World Series for only the third time since moving to San Francisco. Unlike other postseasons, Barry Bonds has been very productive with four homers, including a game-tying, three-run homer in Game 3 of the NLCS. The Giants will need better situational hitting than what they showed in Game 3 when they left 10 men on base and had two innings end with the bases loaded.
Jared Hoffman is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.