(KSDK Sports) -- Here are your must knows before Adam Wainwright throws his first pitch this afternoon in Game One of the National League Division Series against the rival Pittsburgh Pirates.
N.L. CENTRAL CHAMPS: The 2013 N.L. Central Division Champion St. Louis Cardinals concluded their 122nd season of play in the National League at a season-high 32 games over .500...won their first NL Central title since 2009 by winning their most games (97) since 2005 (100)...the Cardinals earned the top-seed in the National League playoffs as well as home field advantage, matching Boston for the best record in the majors...
POST-CARDS: The Cardinals have achieved their third-straight postseason appearance and their 11th in 18 seasons under their current ownership group headed by Bill DeWitt, Jr.
BANNERS IN THE BOARDROOM: Under the ownership of Bill DeWitt, Jr. and his partners, the Cardinals have posted a 1593-1321 record (.547 win pct., 4th-best in majors) since 1996, advancing to the postseason 11 times, including 10 times in the past 14 seasons. The Cardinals were N.L. Champions in 2004, 2006 and 2011 and captured their 10th World Championship in 2006 and their 11th World title in 2011. The Cardinals 57 postseason wins since 1996 are 2nd in the
majors (NY Yankees, 97).
"MO"-MENTUM: The Cardinals have advanced to the postseason in four (2009, '11, '12, '13) of their six seasons under GM John "Mo" Mozeliak.
MANAGING JUST FINE: Mike Matheny, who last year became the first rookie manager to lead the Cardinals to the postseason since Eddie Dyer did so in 1946, is now the first Cardinals manager to pilot the Redbirds to the postseason in each of his first two full seasons with the ballclub...he is the 8th manager all-time to have done so, joining Ron Gardenhire (2002-04), Bob Brenly (2001-02), Larry Dierker (1997-99), Ralph Houk (1961-63), Mickey Cochrane (1934-35),
Bucky Harris (1924-25) and Hughie Jennings (1907-09). (Elias)
CARDS & PIRATES: The Cardinals are meeting the Pirates for the first time ever in postseason play...the Cardinals were 9-10 against the Pirates this season, going 6-3 at Busch Stadium & 3-7 at PNC Park...the Cardinals swept their last series meeting (Sept. 6-8 at Busch) and have won 4-straight against the Bucs...the Cards trail their all-time series with Pittsburgh, 1,076-1,127...the Cardinals are 37-24 (.607) at home against Pittsburgh since 2006 when Busch Stadium III opened...they are 65-44 (.596), the most all-time wins by an opponent, at PNC Park which opened in 2001.
DIVISION SERIES: The Cardinals are a combined 26-12 (.684 winning pct.) in Division Series games and have won eight of the 10 Division Series that they have taken part in, including four by 3-0 sweeps...the only Division Series that they have failed to win were in 2001 vs. Arizona when they were considered the Wild Card team and they stretched that series to a fifth and final game and in 2009 when they were swept in three games by the Dodgers...the Cardinals .684 winning pct. in DS play is tops among clubs with a minimum of 15 games played...this is the sixth time in 11 Division Series appearances that the Cards will open at home...they are 4-0 in Division Series with home field advantage...overall, they are 13-5 in Division Series home games...
HIGH FIVE: The Cardinals are 9-2 in their previous best-of-five postseason series, posting an overall record of 29-12 in those games...aside from their seven Division Series best-of-five wins, the
Cardinals also defeated the Atlanta Braves, 3-0, in the old best-of-five League Championship Series format in 1982.
GAME ONE'S: In Cardinals' playoff history, St. Louis has an overall record of 18-21 in Game 1 action and is 6-4 (4-1 at home) in Division Series Game 1's...since 1987, in postseason series that involved St. Louis, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win 17 of the 23 series...St. Louis owns an all-time record of 116-101 in postseason games.
AGAINST THE CENTRAL: The Cardinals are 2-1 in postseason series in which they were matched up against NL Central Division representatives... they defeated Houston in the 2004 NLCS (4-3), lost to Houston in 2005 NLCS (2-4) and defeated Milwaukee
in the 2011 NLCS (4-2).
DUCK HUNTERS: The Cardinals led the majors with a .330 BA with runners in scoring position (top ML mark on record dating to 1974), including a .305 BA with runners in scoring position and 2 outs...they batted .370 with the bases loaded, belting four grand slams...the Cardinals had an N.L.-best 287 two-out RBI.
FAN CLUB: The Cardinals starting pitchers recorded 806 strikeouts, their most since fanning 829 1969.
STINGY STARTERS: Cardinals starting pitchers had the majors 2nd best staff ERA (3.42) behind only the Dodgers (3.13)
and their lowest since 1988 (3.33).
WINNING WAYS: The starting staff accounted for 77 of the team's 97 wins, their most since 2005 when they posted 81 of the club's 100 W's.
FINEST IN THE FIELD: The 2013 Cardinals set the franchise mark for fewest errors (75) and highest fielding percentage (.988) in a single season...it bested their previous marks of 77 errors and .987 fielding percentage in 2003.
ROOKIE REDBIRDS: The Cardinals had a Major League-leading 36 combined wins from rookie pitchers in 2013, their most since 1941 when they received the franchise record of 42 led by Ernie White (17-7) and Howie Krist (10-0) (Elias)...they used 20 rookies this season - their most since employing 21 in 1970...the Cardinals had 67 games that were started by pitchers age 25 or younger, going 45-27 with a 3.10 ERA in those games.
BELTRAN AT HIS BEST: Carlos Beltran owns some of the game's top all-time marks in postseason play, leading all
active players in BA (.363), on-base pct. (.470) & slugging pct. (.782) while ranking 3rd in HR's (14) in his 34 games played.
STREAKING INTO OCTOBER: The Cardinals finished the season with a six-game winning streak and have several players who completed the regular season with significant streaks heading into the postseason...Jon Jay has hit safely in a career best 13-straight games; Matt Holliday has reached base safely in 7-straight plate appearaces and scored in 8-straight games; reliever Kevin Siegrist finished the year with the majors longest active scoreless innings streak (25.0), while Lance Lynn (11.1) and Michael Wacha (10.1) also finished the year with double-digit scoreless streaks.