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GIANTS (88-74) AT NATIONALS (96-66)

Published Oct. 3, 2014

3:07 today, Fox Sports 1

Season series: Nationals won 5-2

Game 1 starters: Giants - RH Jake Peavy (7-13, 3.73); Nationals - RH Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.14)

Of note: This will be Strasburg's postseason debut. The No. 1 pick in the 2009 amateur draft, the guy with the electric stuff, the 6-foot-4 right-hander who struck out 14 in his first major league start, will show what he can do in the postseason spotlight. ... While the Nationals finished strong, the Giants went only 41-40 in the second half, 13-12 in September. ... After playing so-so for half a season, Washington finished a league-best 21-9 over its last 30 games and finished first in the NL East by 17 games. ... After winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012, the Giants are hoping to keep up their every-other-year pattern. San Francisco missed the playoffs after each of those championships but is back this season as the second NL wild-card team. ... The pitching staff is the backbone of the Nationals: Washington's 3.03 ERA led the majors, and its 3.66 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the best since at least 1900. ... After relying on stellar pitching during those two title runs, the Giants are more balanced this year, finishing fifth in the NL in runs and seventh in ERA. ... The Giants went 65-18 when scoring first and 22-56 when allowing the first run.

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Cardinals (90-72) at Dodgers (94-68)

6:37 tonight, Fox Sports 1

Season series: Dodgers won 4-3

Game 1 starters: Cardinals - RH Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38); Dodgers - LH Clayton Kershaw (21-3, 1.77)

Of note: A rematch of last year's league championship series won by the Cardinals in six games. ... Clayton Kershaw is favorite to win his third Cy Young and dominated in winning both starts against St. Louis this season, allowing three runs and striking out 21 in 14 innings. ... Cardinals C Yadier Molina's return from a torn thumb ligament was a plus, even though he wasn't that productive at the plate. ... Los Angeles begins the playoffs on a five-game winning streak. ... The Dodgers have been one of baseball's best hitting clubs in September, leading the majors with 156 runs scored. Powering the offense have been Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez, who ended the regular season with 116 RBIs. ... Peter Bourjos is the only Cardinals player to homer off Kershaw this year. ... Manager Don Mattingly guided the Dodgers to a second straight division title. He is 354-293 in the regular season during the last four years. ... The Cardinals were so-so on road, going 39-42. ... The Cardinals' side-arming reliever Pat Neshek was a first-time All-Star and nearly untouchable much of the year with an ERA below 1.00 until late August, but had a loss and blown save in his last two outings.