Both the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers had to go the distance in the National League Division Series before emerging victorious. The Cardinals knocked off the heavily favored Philadelphia Phillies, while the Brewers needed extra innings in Game 5 to dispatch the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Cardinals needed a terrific September and a collapse of monumental proportions from the Atlanta Braves just to get into the playoffs and are now taking full advantage of the opportunity. St. Louis’ offense made the vaunted Phillies pitching staff look human and its pitching did the rest.

John Axford, who was one of the game’s best closers during the regular season, was in a precarious position in the ninth inning of Game 5. Even though he did relinquish the lead, he was able to shut the door after that and allowed his offense to send Milwaukee into the NLCS.

Series Schedule

Game 1: Sunday, Oct. 9 at 4:05 p.m. EDT, Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) at Brewers (Zack Greinke)

Game 2: Monday, Oct. 10 at 8:05 p.m. EDT, Cardinals (Edwin Jackson) at Brewers (Shaun Marcum)

Game 3: Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 8:05 p.m. EDT, Brewers (Yovani Gallardo) at Cardinals (Chris Carpenter)

Game 4: Thursday, Oct. 13 at 8:05 p.m. EDT, Brewers (Randy Wolf) at Cardinals (Kyle Lohse)

Game 5: Friday, Oct. 14 at 8:05 p.m. EDT, Brewers (Zack Greinke) at Cardinals (Jaime Garcia)

Game 6: Sunday, Oct. 16 at 4:05 p.m. EDT, Cardinals (Edwin Jackson) at Brewers (Shaun Marcum)

Game 7: Monday, Oct. 17 at 8:05 p.m. EDT, Cardinals (Chris Carpenter) at Brewers (Yovani Gallardo)

Watch: All games broadcast on TBS.

Live Streaming: on ($2.99 charge may apply).

Listen: All games broadcast on ESPN Radio; KMOX 1120 AM (St. Louis) or WTMJ 620 AM (Milwaukee)

Key Storyline

Is Matt Holliday healthy enough to help the Cardinals offense?

St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday has been dealing with an inflamed tendon in his right middle finger. He’s tried to play through the pain as much as possible despite the ailment causing him to struggle at the plate. If the Cardinals are to advance, he’ll need to contribute offensively in some fashion.

The combination of Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman in the lineup is good, but Holliday makes it great. The veteran left fielder had a .912 OPS during the regular season, which is actually below average for him but still ranks him highly among outfielders.

Cardinals Player To Watch
: C Yadier Molina

Molina hit .305, including a .340 mark with runners on base, during the regular season. However, against the Phillies he went just 4-for-19. He’s the forgotten man in the St. Louis order and will need to come up with a few big hits against a tough Brewers staff.

Brewers Player To Watch
: CF Nyjer Morgan

Even though the middle of the Milwaukee order, consisting of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, gets all the publicity, it’s Morgan and Corey Hart that are relied upon to get on base in front of those big hitters. Morgan struggled against the Diamondbacks and it will be important for “Tony Plush” to get back on track against St. Louis.

Series Breakdown

St. Louis Cardinals Category Milwaukee Brewers
X – If Holliday is effective Offense  
  Defense X – Big advantage
  Starting Pitching X – Deeper rotation
  Bullpen X – Third-best in baseball
X – La Russa by a nose Manager  

Prediction: Brewers win series in six games

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