NL Division Series
This is the first playoff meeting between the Nationals and Cardinals.
It marks the first post-season appearance for the Washington Nationals since moving from Montreal in 2005 and is just the second playoff appearance in the 43-year history of the franchise.
The Cardinals once again find themselves in the playoff picture thanks to a wild card berth.
In 2011 the Cards qualified for the playoffs on the final night of the regular season.
They rode the momentum of that unforgettable night past the prohibitive-favourite Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS, as Chris Carpenter outdueled good friend and former teammate Roy Halladay in a 1-0 Game 5 pitching classic.
The Cards would outslug the Brewers in the NLCS, scoring 43 runs in six games, before a dramatic comeback in the World Series.
Down to the last out in Game 6 against the defending AL-Champion Texas Rangers, the Cardinals stormed back to win Game 6 in 11 innings in front of a euphoric Busch Stadium crowd before finishing the job the next night for the team's 11th World Series crown.
The Cardinals qualified for the NLDS by beating the Atlanta Braves 6-3 in a one-game wild card playoff on Oct. 5.
The Nationals were the best team in the majors in 2012, posting 96 wins, despite a sub-.500 record in 2011.
The Nationals pitching staff was largely responsible for the turnaround as new addition Gio Gonzalez stepped into the rotation and put together a Cy Young-calibre season with a 21-8 record and 207 strikeouts.
The team will be without phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg for the series after the team opted to enforce a set innings cap on Sept. 8 and shut their other ace down for the year, but 26-year-old Jordan Zimmermann had a solid season in his own right and Edwin Jackson brings World Series pedigree to the rotation, having won a ring with the Cardinals last season.
The Nationals won the season series 4-3, taking three of four at Nationals Park and one of three at Busch. The two clubs did not meet this season until Aug. 30.
Tale of the Tape
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