A look at the best-of-5 National League division series between the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants: Schedule: Game 1, Wednesday, at San Francisco (4:07 p.m. EDT, ESPN); Game 2, Thursday, at San Francisco (8:18 p.m., Fox); Game 3, Saturday, at New York (TBA); x-Game 4, Sunday, at New York (TBA); x-Game 5, Monday, at San Francisco (TBA).
Season Series: San Francisco won, 5-3.
Mets: Benny Agbayani (.289, 15 HRs, 60 RBIs) OR Darryl Hamilton lf (.276, 1, 6), Derek Bell (.266, 18, 69) OR Timo Perez rf (.286, 1, 3), Edgardo Alfonzo 2b (.324, 25, 94, 109 runs), Mike Piazza c (.324, 38, 113), Robin Ventura 3b (.232, 24, 84), Todd Zeile 1b (.268, 22, 79), Jay Payton cf (.291, 17, 62), Mike Bordick ss (.185, 20 80).
Giants: Marvin Benard cf (.263, 12, 55, 22 SBs), Bill Mueller 3b (.268, 10, 55), Barry Bonds lf (.306, 49, 106, 129 runs, 117 BBs), Jeff Kent 2b (.334, 33, 125), J.T. Snow 1b (.284, 19, 96), Ellis Burks rf (.344, 24, 96), Rich Aurilia ss (.271, 20, 79), Bobby Estalella c (.234, 14, 53).
Mets: LH Mike Hampton (15-10, 3.14 ERA), LH Al Leiter (16-8, 3.20, 200 Ks), RH Rick Reed (11-5, 4.11), RH Bobby J. Jones (11-6, 5.06) or LH Glendon Rusch (11-11, 4.01).
Giants: RH Livan Hernandez (17-11, 3.75 ERA), LH Shawn Estes (15-6, 4.26), RH Russ Ortiz (14-12, 5.01), LH Kirk Rueter (11-9, 3.96) OR RH Mark Gardner (11-7, 4.05).
Mets: RH Armando Benitez (4-4, 2.61, 4146, 106 Ks76 IP), LH John Franco (5-4, 3.40, 4), RH Turk Wendell (8-6, 3.59, 1), LH Dennis Cook (6-3, 5.34, 2), RH Rick White (5-9, 3.52, 3), RH Bobby J. Jones (11-6, 5.06) or LH Glendon Rusch (11-11, 4.01).
Giants: RH Robb Nen (4-3, 1.50, 41/46 saves), LH Alan Embree (3-5, 4.95, 2), RH Aaron Fultz (5-2, 4.67, 1), RH Doug Henry (4-4, 3.84, 1), RH John Johnstone (3-4, 6.30), RH Felix Rodriguez (4-2, 2.64, 2).
Hampton, 0-1 with a 5.09 ERA in three postseason starts, is 9-0 in his career against San Francisco. ... Giants swept four-game series at home in May -- their first four-game sweep of the Mets since June 1-3, 1962, at the Polo Grounds -- before losing three of four at Shea Stadium in August. ... Teams tied for best home record in majors at 55-26. ... East Coast vs. West Coast feud is recognized by Giants fans: Mets get bigger boos in San Francisco than any team except Dodgers. ... Two bench-clearing fights in four days highlighted the series, which produced brushbacks, beanballs and plenty of hard feelings. ... Piazza hit .467 with two homers against San Francisco. Payton batted .400. ... Bell (.143, 1 RBI) and Ventura (.174, 2 RBIs) struggled against Giants. ... Cook allowed seven runs in two innings and also sparked the benches to clear when he hit Benard in first series. ... Bonds hit .450 in wins and .091 in losses to Mets. ... Kent burned his former team, hitting .414 with a game-winning homer on May 3 against Wendell and a two-run shot the next day against Benitez. ... Ortiz is 4-0 lifetime against Mets. ... Leiter struck out 12 in 2-0 win Aug. 2.
Mets: Recovered from September swoon to qualify for postseason in consecutive years for first time in team history. Lost seven of eight to open the month, but finished season by winning nine of 11. ... Contracts expire after season for manager Bobby Valentine and GM Steve Phillips. Postseason performance could determine their future. ... Hampton, acquired to be a playoff ace, also can leave at end of season and is auditioning for big-bucks deal. ... Piazza, the team's biggest offensive weapon, hit .222 with five homers and 12 RBIs after Sept. 1. ... Have deep rotation with five 11-game winners for first time since 1988. ... Perez has brought speed element since callup in late August and could fill similar role to Melvin Mora in last year's postseason. ... Team is playoff tested after taking Atlanta to six games in 1999 NLCS. ... Alfonzo hit seven homers in September.
Giants: Cruised to baseball's best record with strong performances in September. ... Back in the postseason for the first time since 1997. Giants still haven't won a playoff game under Dusty Baker, despite his two NL Manager of the Year awards (likely three when current year's award is handed out). ... For first time in years, San Francisco has big home-field advantage thanks to sold-out Pacific Bell Park. Giants would love to christen gorgeous new park with pennant. ... The park is new, but swirling winds and chilly October conditions of Candlestick Park remain the same. San Francisco clinched NL West two weeks ago in breezy, blustery weather. ... Bonds and Kent both strong MVP candidates. Bonds established new career-high with 49 homers, while Kent broke Rogers Hornsby's 75-year-old record for RBI production at 2b over a four-year period. ... Capable bench features rookie Damon Minor, who's hit three homers in nine at-bats since being recalled from minors. ... Solid rotation gives way to Nen, who hasn't blown a save since early June and has allowed just one run in August and September.
-- October Bonds. Giants' star has another chance to live down his reputation as a postseason choker. Bonds has hit .200 with one homer and five RBIs in four playoff series -- all losses.
-- Piazza's Power. Mets leader tired during last year's playoff run, hitting .182 and becoming a defensive liability. Will more rest this season be difference for Piazza?
-- Burks' legs. Giants' clutch-hitting emotional leader has taken a couple of days off each week to rest his aching knees. Can he play every day in postseason?
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