A look at the best-of-five National League division series between the Florida Marlins and San Francisco Giants:
Schedule: (All times Eastern) Game 1, Tuesday, at San Francisco (4:06 p.m., ESPN); Game 2, Wednesday, at San Francisco (4:06 p.m., ESPN); Game 3, Friday, at Florida (4:06 p.m., ESPN2); x-Game 4, Saturday, at Florida (TBA); x-Game 5, Sunday, at San Francisco (TBA).
Season Series: San Francisco won 5-1.
Projected Lineups Marlins: CF Juan Pierre (.305, 1 HR, 41 RBIs, major league-leading 65 steals, 204 hits), 2B Luis Castillo (.314, 6, 39, 21 steals), C Ivan Rodriguez (.297, 16, 85), 1B Derrek Lee (.271, 31, 92, 21 steals, 131 Ks), 3B Miguel Cabrera (.268, 12, 62), RF Juan Encarnacion (.270, 19, 94, 19 steals), LF Jeff Conine (.282, 20, 95 for Baltimore and Florida), SS Alex Gonzalez (.256, 6, 18).
Giants: 2B Ray Durham (.285, 8, 33), 1B J.T. Snow (.273, 8, 51), SS Rich Aurilia (.277, 13, 58), LF Barry Bonds (.341, 45, 90, major league-leading .749 slugging percentage and .529 on-base percentage), 3B Edgardo Alfonzo (.259, 13, 81), C Benito Santiago (.279, 11, 56), CF Marquis Grissom (.300, 20, 79), RF Jose Cruz Jr. (250, 20, 68, 102 BBs).
Projected Rotations Marlins: RH Josh Beckett (9-8, 3.04 ERA, 152 Ks in 142 IP), RH Brad Penny (14-10, 4.13), LH Mark Redman (14-9, 3.59), LH Dontrelle Willis (14-6, 3.30).
Giants: RH Jason Schmidt (17-5, 2.34, 208 Ks), RH Sidney Ponson (17-12, 3.75 for Baltimore and San Francisco), LH Kirk Rueter (10-5, 4.53), RH Jerome Williams (7-5, 3.30).
Relievers Marlins: RH Ugueth Urbina (3-4, 2.81, 32/38 saves for Texas and Florida), RH Braden Looper (6-4, 3.68, 28/34 saves), RH Chad Fox (3-3, 3.12, 3 for Boston and Florida), RH Carl Pavano (12-13, 4.30), LH Michael Tejera (3-4, 4.67, 2), RH Rick Helling (8-8, 5.17).
Giants: RH Tim Worrell (4-4, 2.87, 38/45), RH Jim Brower (8-5, 3.96, 2), RH Joe Nathan (12-4, 2.96), RH Felix Rodriguez (8-2, 3.10, 2), RH Matt Herges (1-0, 2.31), LH Jason Christiansen (0-0, 5.19), LH Scott Eyre (2-1, 3.32, 1).
San Francisco swept three games at Florida in May - right before Marlins manager Jeff Torborg was fired and replaced by Jack McKeon - and won two of three at Pacific Bell Park in August. ... The Marlins are back in the playoffs for the first time since winning the World Series in 1997. They swept San Francisco in the first round that year. Florida was the wild-card winner that season, same as this year when they won a stretch duel with Philadelphia. ... Florida is 14-34 at San Francisco, where the first two games will be played. ... Of San Francisco's starters, the Marlins have hit the best against Rueter. Castillo is 8-for-21 (.381) with three triples and Conine is 6-for-15 (.400). ... Conine is 4-for-8 against Schmidt with two homers, two strikeouts and two walks. ... Alfonzo has six hits in 22 at-bats against Penny. ... Rodriguez is 7-for-22 (.318) against Ponson. They're both former AL guys. ... Beckett was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA vs. the Giants this year after going 2-0 against them in 2002. ... Pavano, who beat the Giants in the final game of the regular-season series, will be in the bullpen for the playoffs.
Marlins: The Marlins started 19-29, but were revived by McKeon. Since May 23 they have the best record in the major leagues. They're only the ninth team to come from at least 10 games below .500 and reach the postseason. ... The playoffs will be the first for the 72-year-old McKeon in his 13-year managerial career. McKeon, who took over on May 11, becomes the oldest big league manager to reach the postseason. It's the 12th time a team has made the postseason after changing managers in midseason. ... Willis sparked the Marlins' turnaround when he was recalled from Double-A on May 9, and his former Carolina Mudcats teammate, Cabrera, made nearly as big an impact. Willis became an All-Star and a nationwide sensation with his high leg kick and hat tilted to the side. He slumped a bit in the second half, losing four straight decisions, but then won two big games in the stretch. ... Among the probable starters for Game 1, the only Marlins with postseason experience are Rodriguez and Conine. Rodriguez's Texas Rangers went 1-9 in three series against the New York Yankees, and Conine played for the Marlins in 1997.
Giants: The Giants have been remarkable under first-year manager Felipe Alou, who predicted from the day he took the job replacing Dusty Baker that this team had the talent to play deep into October again this year. The Giants won the NL West despite countless injuries that forced them to be creative with their rotation and rely on several young arms to win big games. Closer Robb Nen has been on the disabled list since opening day because of a bad right shoulder. ... Bonds dealt with the death of his father, while Schmidt lost his mother. ... San Francisco came within two innings of winning the World Series last year. The Giants blew a big lead in Game 6 against Anaheim and lost to the Angels the next day. The Giants have not won a World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958. ... Besides Baker, the Giants lost plenty of other big names in the offseason. Jeff Kent, Kenny Lofton and David Bell left the lineup and Russ Ortiz and Livan Hernandez were gone from the rotation.
- The Barry factor. Bonds put up monstrous postseason numbers last year, hitting eight homers and reaching base in 21 of 30 plate appearances in the World Series. The Giants were 4-0 in games that Bonds played against Florida this season, and going into these playoffs McKeon sounded as if he no intention to pitching to the big guy.
- Senior skippers. McKeon matches up against the 68-year-old Alou, who also will manage in his first playoff series. Alou missed out on a chance in 1994 when the strike cut short the season while his Montreal Expos had the best record in the majors.
- Running wild. The Marlins take off at a moment's notice - they stole 150 bases this season, more swipes than any other team even attempted.
- Looming Lowell. Mike Lowell, the Marlins' All-Star third baseman, is healthy again after missing four weeks with broken left hand. He hit 32 homers this season and returned to the lineup for the final game of the regular season. McKeon says Lowell will begin the playoffs on the bench.
- Home boys. The Marlins would love to split the first two games, because lately they've played especially well at home. After trailing Philadelphia in the wild-card standings Sept. 19, the Marlins won five in a row in Florida to clinch the playoff berth, which made it 16 wins in their past 18 home games.
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