MILWAUKEE -- Over the course of 18 meetings in the regular season, the Cardinals saw a slew of different Brewers come up with big hits against them. Yet rarely were those hitters named "Braun" or "Fielder." St. Louis will be looking to contain Milwaukee's top two hitters again in the playoffs.
The heart of the Brewers' order is as dangerous as any in either league. However, lineup depth is less of a strength for Milwaukee. For the most part, teams that control Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder can beat the Brewers.
That wasn't exactly the case for the Cards, who mostly kept Braun and Fielder quiet -- but got burned by Corey Hart, Casey McGehee, Nyjer Morgan and even Yuniesky Betancourt during the year. But the strategy remains in place.
"I don't care if it's a regular-season contest, [National] League Championship Series," manager Tony La Russa said. "You know, they had the season lead on us for a while because they shut down some of our key hitters. And then we did better later on shutting their guys down, so it evened up. The key guys are the ones the club is built around, and if they produce, [it's a] lift. And if you can get them out, it makes it tougher. So your attitude is the same. Their attitude is the same. We hope our guys are hot and theirs are not."
Braun batted .225 with a .267 on-base percentage, a .366 slugging percentage, two homers and seven RBIs in 71 at-bats against St. Louis this year. Fielder had a .233/.377/.417 line, with three homers and 11 RBIs in 60 at-bats.
No real surprises as Cardinals set rotation
MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa confirmed on Saturday that his club has set its rotation for the National League Championship Series, starting on Sunday at Miller Park. Unlike La Russa's rotation for the NL Division Series against the Phillies, it contains no real surprises.
Jaime Garcia will start Game 1, followed by Edwin Jackson in Game 2, both at Miller Park, while Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse will pitch Games 3 and 4, respectively, at Busch Stadium. Garcia, Jackson and Carpenter pitched Games 3-4-5 of the NLDS and will each be pitching on four days' rest. Lohse pitched the first game of the NLDS and will be on 11 days' rest. Jake Westbrook will once again not be in the rotation.
That sets up Garcia to get a home start in a potential Game 5, with Jackson and Carpenter in Games 6-7, if necessary. The two right-handers have been the club's best pitchers since early August, and having them potentially on turn for the final two games works out perfectly for the Cards.
La Russa hoping Game 1 is played without roof
MILWAUKEE -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa doesn't much care whether the roof at Miller Park is open or closed on Sunday, but he said Saturday that he's heard it will be open.
With a high temperature in the upper 70s and no rain in the forecast, it's hard to imagine a more beautiful day for a ballgame than Milwaukee is likely to experience on Sunday. First pitch for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series is set for 3:05 p.m. CT, which could create challenges with shadows on the field if the roof is open.
"Well, I understand from this afternoon it's going to be open tomorrow," La Russa said. "So whatever -- I think what matters is that the condition is the same for both teams. If it's shut and you've got lights, you don't have to worry about shadows. As long as it's the same for both teams. If you're lucky enough to get an 80-degree day in October, I think you want fresh air."
The 2011 National League Championship Series will mark the sixth time in the Wild Card era that two teams from the same division have met in the NLCS. It's the third time that two NL Central teams have met -- each time including the Cardinals. They played Houston in the NLCS in 2004 and '05.
Rafael Furcal hit five home runs in 12 regular-season games against the Brewers in 2011.
Albert Pujols has 19 home runs in his career at Miller Park, the most of any player who has never played for the Brewers. Lance Berkman is tied for second on that list with 16.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.