ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The underdogs prevailed in the National League Division Series with the St. Louis Cardinals taking down the 97-win Atlanta Braves and the wild-card Washington Nationals overcoming the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers, both in five games. The Cardinals, who won the NL Central, will serve as the home team and host the Nationals in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Friday.
TV: 8:08 p.m. ET, TBS
St. Louis took the drama out of Game 5 of the NLDS with a 10-run first inning and cruised to a 13-1 victory, taking the first step of what it believes will be a long journey in the postseason.
"That's what this organization's all about," Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt told reporters. "The tradition has been set by the guys way before me. That's what the fans expect. Ownership, front office, players and coaches. That's awesome. That's what you want. That's what we want to do. It's just taking it step by step."
Washington was all about drama in Game 5 against the Dodgers, slugging back-to-back homers off Clayton Kershaw to tie the game in the eighth inning before Howie Kendrick's grand slam in the 10th provided the winning margin in the 7-3 triumph.
"I'm really excited, one, for the boys in that clubhouse that fought all year," Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters. "As you all know, we were 19-31 at one point and turned this thing around. So, I've said this all year long, that these guys, this group is resilient, they won't quit until the last out, and they play hard every single day."
Nationals RH Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Miles Mikolas (1-0, 1.50)
Sanchez was held out of the decision in Game 3 of the NLDS when he left with a 2-1 lead after five innings and watched Patrick Corbin and the bullpen yield seven runs in the sixth.
Sanchez is 2-5 with a 2.98 ERA in nine career postseason games (eight starts) and last pitched in the championship series with the Detroit Tigers in 2013. The Venezuela native last saw St. Louis on April 30, when he was reached for three runs on five hits and a pair of walks in five innings of a loss.
Mikolas got the nod in Game 1 of the NLDS and held Atlanta to one run and three hits over five innings without factoring in the decision. The 31-year-old came out of the bullpen in Monday's Game 4 and earned a victory with a perfect 10th inning when Yadier Molina provided a walk-off RBI in the bottom of the frame.
Mikolas earned a win with six strong innings at Washington on May 1 but suffered his final loss of the regular season at home when the Nationals reached him for three runs in six frames on Sept. 17.
1. Washington is playing in the franchise's first NLCS since the Montreal Expos lost in five games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981.
2. Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run in Game 5 of the NLDS and is batting .350 in the postseason.
3. St. Louis LF Marcell Ozuna led the team with five RBIs in the NLDS and matched Goldschmidt with a .429 batting average.
PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Cardinals 4