SERIES SCHEDULE (Best-of-5)
Game 1: Tomorrow, Atlanta (Lowe 16-12) at San Francisco (Lincecum 16-10), 9:37
Game 2: Friday, Atlanta (Hanson, 10-11) at San Francisco (Cain, 13-11), 9:37
Game 3: Sunday, San Francisco (Sanchez 13-9) at Atlanta (Hudson, 17-9), 4:37
Game 4: Monday, San Francisco at Atlanta, 8:37 or 7:35, if necessary
Game 5: Wednesday, Atlanta at San Francisco, 9:37 or 8:07, if necessary
Avg..258 (6th) .257 (7th)
Runs738 (5th) 694 (9th)
RBI699 (5th) 660 (9th)
Home Runs139 (11th) 162 (6th)
OBA.339 (1st) .321 (8th)
ERA3.56 (3rd) 3.36 (1st)
Strikeouts1,241 (6th) 1,331 (1st)
History: The Braves and Giants last met in the 2002 NLDS series, with the Giants winning, 3-2.
This season: The Braves won the season series, 4-3, outscoring the Giants, 28-21, in the process.
About the Braves: The Braves are in their first postseason since 2005 largely due to their strong starting pitching. Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Tommy Hanson have combined to win 43 games while posting a 3.36 ERA. Atlanta led the NL East for the majority of the year before the Phillies caught them in September. Rookie Jason Heyward has shown superb plate discipline en route to posting a .393 on-base percentage, which ties him for eighth in all of baseball. The Braves excel at Turner Field, where they have a 56-25 record, the best in baseball. Bobby Cox could be managing his last series ever as he plans to retire following this season. Cox has won 2,504 games during his career, the fourth most of all time.
About the Giants: If the Braves are good at pitching, the Giants are great. Led by two-time defending Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, San Francisco's pitching staff posted a 3.36 ERA, the best mark in baseball. Lincecum isn't the only reliable arm on San Francisco's staff, as Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez both won 13 games with an ERA of 3.14 or less. Offensively, the Giants have a rookie phenom of their own in Buster Posey. Posey led the Giants with a .305 batting average while also hitting 18 home runs and knocking in 67 runs. Aubrey Huff led the Giants with 26 home runs and 86 RBI.
Fun fact: At times San Francisco's outfield will resemble the 2007 Phillies. Pat Burrell, who started the season on the Rays, has 18 home runs and 51 RBI in a platoon role. Aaron Rowand has appeared in 95 games for the Giants after fracturing his cheekbone in April.
What to look for: Runs could be at a premium in this series. If either team can get out to an early lead, it might be enough. Which team's staff will falter first? Will the Braves be able to prolong Bobby Cox' retirement? Neither team has an RBI machine in its lineup, so look for production to be evenly spread on both sides.
Predictions: Giants will win: Paul Hagen (4), Bill Conlin (5), David Murphy (5), John Smallwood (4). Braves will win: Sam Donnellon (4), Marcus Hayes (4), Rich Hofmann (5).
- Kyle Gauss