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Playoff Gameday Thread, #7: Just the National League left

TBS must be miffed, after both their televised division series ended in sweeps. With a Royals-Orioles ALCS now set up, we turn to the National League. We know there'll be at least ONE fourth game needed...

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

2:07pm Arizona time, MLB Network: Giants lead 2-0

Doug Fister
RHP, 0-0, N/A
Madison Bumgarner
LHP, 1-0, 0.00
Denard Span - CF Gregor Blanco - CF
Anthony Rendon - 3B Joe Panik - 2B
Jayson Werth - RF Buster Posey - C
Adam LaRoche - 1B Pablo Sandoval - 3B
Ian Desmond - SS Hunter Pence - RF
Bryce Harper - LF Brandon Belt - 1B
Wilson Ramos - C Brandon Crawford - SS
Asdrubal Cabrera - 2B Travis Ishikawa - LF
Doug Fister - RHP Madison Bumgarner- LHP

The Nationals season is on life-support, having dropped the first two games in this best-of-five series at hone, they now face three straight elimination games, and start off by having to go through Bumgarner, who destroyed the Pirates' hopes and dreams in the wlld-card game. Things might have been very different if Matt Williams had not yanked Jordan Zimmermann after 8 2/3 innings of Game 2 - the first time that had ever been done in a post-season shutout. [But my favorite fact about that game, was not that it was the second 18-inning game ever in playoff history. It was that TIm Hudson pitched in both of them.]

So can Washington come back or will the franchise remain without a post-season series victory in 32 years, when they were the Montreal Expos? It's going to be a tough road back, and all they can do is try to survive one more game tonight, against the Giants' ace. The scheduling has actually worked out nicely for San Francisco: if they knock off Washington tonight (or, indeed, whenever), their ace would be on schedule to pitch the opener of the Championship series on regular rest. And Williams will be left to spent the winter pondering if his decision will possibly turn out to be the defining moment of his young managerial career.

6:07pm Arizona time, Fox Sports 1: Series tied 1-1

Hyun-Jin Ryu
LHP, 0-0, N/A
John Lackey
RHP, 0-0, N/A
Dee Gordon - 2B Matt Carpenter - 3B
Yasiel Puig - CF Randal Grichuk - RF
Adrian Gonzalez - 1B Matt Holliday - LF
Matt Kemp - RF Jhonny Peralta - SS
Hanley Ramirez - SS Matt Adams - 1B
Carl Crawford - LF Yadier Molina - C
Juan Uribe - 3B Jon Jay - CF
A.J. Ellis - C Kolten Wong - 2B
Hyun-Jin Ryu - LHP John Lackey - RHP

I imagine the Cardinals will be happy with a split of the first two games, on the road in Los Angeles, particularly having beaten Clayton Kershaw in the opener. Regardless of how much the disconsolate Amish farmer was slapped around in Game 1, I suspect they won't want a possible rematch in Game 5, and have the chance to do so, if they can take the next two games at Busch Stadium. On the other hand, having had Matt Carpenter pull them back into Game 2, they may be kicking themselves for not coming home with the same lead as the Giants, as the other Matt - Kemp, this time - evened the series.

Lackey's ten starts with the Cardinals since coming over from the Red Sox were fairly underwhelming, with an ERA of 4.30, significantly above the 3.60 he posted with Boston. An increased home-run rate is likely responsible for a good chunk of that, and keeping the likes of Kemp in the park will be key for him tonight. Meanwhile, Ryu will have to shake off the rust, since his last start was September 12, when he lasted only one inning against the Giants due to shoulder problems. The Dodgers say they're confident of his health, but I suspect there will be a quick hook waiting in the dugout if he struggles early on.