© 2012 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
10/22/12 12:31 AM ET
Rich history of Game 7 gets Cards-Giants addition
NLCS extended to its limit by two teams familiar with do-or-die scenario
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
The very essence of the term is synonymous with winner-take-all, pressure-packed thrills: Game 7. A 2012 postseason that has seen more than its share of elimination games will include one more before the World Series begins, with the Giants and Cardinals stretching their best-of-seven National League Championship Series to the limit.
Certainly, the Cardinals would have preferred this series ending in six, but now they're headed for their seventh Game 7 since 1985. They've won four of the first six, including three in the NLCS and one in the World Series. The position they find themselves in this time, however, is not ideal. Going back to 1976, a home team has won Game 6 of a best-of-seven series, forcing a Game 7, on 12 occasions. The home team has then gone on to win Game 7 as well in 11 of those instances. The only exception? The Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS, when they lost Game 6 at Shea Stadium and then won Game 7 against the Mets. Actually, it was in the 2011 World Series that the Cardinals had their last and best experience with Game 7. Following their remarkable comeback from being one strike away from elimination in Game 6, the Cardinals closed out the series with a victory the next day. As for the Giants, Game 7 has not been kind over the years. They lost the finale of the 2002 World Series to the Angels, following a heartbreaking loss in Game 6, and the Cardinals knocked them off in the 1987 NLCS. Going back even further into the history books, the Giants have yet to close out a seven-game series of any kind. They lost in a Game 7 in the World Series in 1962 -- a painful ending with Willie McCovey lining out to the Yankees' Bobby Richardson with the winning run in scoring position -- and before that in 1924 and 1912. The 1987 NLCS between these two clubs wound up sticking in the craw of the Giants and their fans for years, because they got within a victory of their first World Series appearance in 25 years but then lost the final two games of the series in St. Louis, Danny Cox going the distance in a 6-0 Game 7 victory. The Cardinals have a sad Game 7 story of their own, dating back to 1996 -- Tony La Russa's first of his 16 years managing the club -- when they took a 3-1 series lead before losing Game 5 at home and then twice in Atlanta, going down hard in Game 7, 15-0. You don't have to look back too far to find positive examples of playing with their backs against the wall for both teams, however. The Giants won an unprecedented three straight road games to overtake the Reds in the NL Division Series, and the Cardinals were down to their last strike before staging a comeback victory in Game 5 against the Nationals. Cardinals veteran Lance Berkman looks at this Game 7 and sees two teams that are prepared for this kind of showdown. "I don't think you're going to see a choke factor," Berkman said. "I think you'll see two teams competing at a high level." Indeed, both teams have shown that in staging remarkable comebacks already this postseason. After forcing a Game 7, Giants have company on the ledge of elimination. Said Affeldt: "Now we've got two teams in the same boat." Game 7 will do that, and only one team will sail on to the World Series after this one.
LCS Game 7s
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.