If this feels familiar, it's because it is. Sort of.
The Cardinals and the Braves have a fascinating history, the entirety of which I will not be retelling in detail here. There are plenty of resources on the internet and beyond if that's a deep dive you want to take as you wait for first pitch on Thursday.
What I will do is give you the cliff notes, then the basics for the current chapter in the Cardinals vs Braves Postseason chronicle.
Our story begins in 1982...
The National League Championship Series opened at Busch Stadium on October 7th, 1982.
Game 1 (Final Score: 7-0, Cardinals) Starting Pitchers: Pascual Perez vs Bob Forsch
Forsch complete game shutout, 3 hits, 6 Ks, no walks. The Cardinals had runs driven in by Ozzie Smith, Ken Oberkfell, Lonnie Smith, Bob Forsch, Willie McGee, and George Hendrick.
Game 2 (Final Score: 4-3, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Phil Niekro vs John Stuper
Tied at three runs a piece, the Cardinals took the two-game series lead on a walk-off base hit to right from Ken Oberkfell. You can watch it HERE!
Game 3 (Final Score: 6-2, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Joaquin Andújar vs Rick Camp
Camp was knocked out in the 2nd inning after facing five batters without recording an out. Cardinals scored four runs that inning, and added one each in the 5th and the 9th innings. Bruce Sutter picked up the save, throwing 2.1 innings and sending the Cardinals to the World Series where they would eventually win their 9th title, the first since 1967.
That was the first, but not the last, time the Cardinals would sweep the Braves out of October.
In 1996, the Cardinals and the Braves faced off in the NLCS again. Game one was played at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta on October 9th.
Game 1 (Final Score: 4-2, Braves)
Starting Pitchers: Andy Benes vs John Smoltz
Bennes tossed four shutout innings before giving up two runs in the 5th. The Cardinals were just 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position, tallying single runs in both the 2nd and 7th innings. But that would be all, as Atlanta claimed the 1-0 series lead behind an 8-inning outing from Smoltz.
Game 2 (Final Score: 8-3, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Todd Stottlemyre vs Greg Maddux
While Stottlemyre out-dualing Maddux (just barely) seems like the key to this tale, the real highlight was Gary Gaetti hitting a grand slam off Maddux in the 7th to make it an 8-3 Cardinals lead. Seriously - a grand slam off Maddux. They also had runs driven in by Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan, and Ron Gant, for context.
Game 3 (Final Score: 3-2, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Tom Glavine vs Donovan Osborne
Osborne gave up just two runs through seven innings plus two batters in the 8th. Then, the trio of Mark Petkovsek, Rick Honeycutt, and Dennis Eckersley finished it off, limiting the Braves to just eight hits and three walks on the night.
Game 4 (Final Score: 4-3, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Denny Neagle vs Andy Benes
Atlanta struck first with a run in the 2nd inning, then two in the 6th, but the Cardinals put up three in the 7th and one more in the 8th to pull of another one-run victory and take a 3-1 series lead.
Game 5 (Final Score: 14-0, Braves)
Starting Pitchers: John Smoltz vs Todd Stottlemyre
This one got ugly fast: four consecutive hits to start off the game were shortly followed by two more hits (these of the two-out variety) to spot the Braves a 5-0 lead in the 1st inning. Stottlemyre only lasted through two batters in the 2nd before being pulled… and it didn’t get better from there. Meanwhile, the Cardinals' offense notched only seven total to go with nine strikeouts in the overwhelming loss.
Game 6 (Final Score: 3-1, Braves)
Starting Pitchers: Alan Benes vs Greg Maddux
This time, Maddux got the best of the Cardinals, going 7.2 IP, giving up just one run on six hits and throwing just 80 pitches. Without much Cardinals offense to speak of, Mark Wohlers finished it off for the Braves, tying the series at three games a piece.
Game 7 (Final Score: 15-0, Braves)
Starting Pitchers: Donovan Osborne vs Tom Glavine
If Game 4 was bad, Game 7 was exponentially worse. St. Louis pitching allowed 6 Atlanta runs in the first, 4 in the 3rd, 2 in the 7th, and just 4 Cardinal hits on the night. And to add insult to injury, THAT was the game that featured the final at bat for Ozzie Smith.
And that is how the Cardinals blew a 3-1 series lead to send the Braves to the World Series, where they lost to the New York Yankees in six games.
But wait, there's more...
Fast forward to the 2000s, when the Cardinals would boast some of the best teams in baseball on their way to a pair of World Series Championships.
But first, they'd play the Atlanta Braves in the 2000 National League Division Series, which began on October 3rd at Busch Stadium, as featured on ESPN.
Game 1 (Final Score: 7-5, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Greg Maddux vs Rick Ankiel
The Cardinals once again popped off against Greg Maddux, throwing up a six-spot on in the bottom of the 1st inning. But that was hardly the story of the game. You see, this was the infamous "Ankiel Game," where superstar in the making Rick Ankiel -- given the Game 1 start over Darryl Kyle -- would inexplicably throw five wild pitches in the third inning, allowing four Atlanta runs to score. That game was the beginning of a nightmare October for Ankile, and the beginning of the end of his career as a Major League pitcher.
So, the Cardinals won, but they also lost.
Game 2 (Final Score: 10-4, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Tom Glavine vs Darryl Kile
The Braves struck first with two runs in the top half of the opening frame, but the Cardinals came right back with three in the bottom half. And they didn’t stop there - one in the 2nd, three in the 3rd, one each in the 4th, 6th, and 8th, broken up only by a pair of Braves runs in the 8th… would secure the route for the home team. Will Clark, Carlos Hernandez, and Mark McGwire each homered for the Cardinals, though the team was just three for nine with runners in scoring position.
Game 3 (Final Score: 7-1, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Garrett Stephenson vs Kevin Millwood
Stephenson wasn’t a lock for the postseason roster because of an elbow injury ahead of the division series. He would, in fact, be shut down for the year after this game. But, Stephens had thrown a complete game shutout against the Braves on August 5th of that year. The success didn't quite translate, though, as he only managed 3.2 innings before handing the game over to the bullpen. Fernando Vina, Jim Edmonds, and Placido Polanco drove in all 7 runs for the Cardinals, and Dave Veres closed it out in the 9th to secure the sweep and send the Cardinals on to the NLCS.
And then, there was Pete Kozma.
The defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals faced the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card game on October 5th, 2012.
NL WC Game (Final Score: 6-3, Cardinals)
Starting Pitchers: Kyle Lohse vs Kris Medlen
The Braves scored two runs in the 2nd, then the Cardinals scored three in the 4th, one in the 6th, and two in the 7th. The Braves got one back in the bottom the inning, but none of that really matters, at least not to anyone with even a vague recollection of that game. The Braves were mounting a comeback in the 8th inning off of once-closer Mitchell Boggs when "Pete Kozma, Sam Holbrook, and the Great Infield Fly" became the stuff of legends.
Debris on the field, a 20-minute delay, Atlanta manager Freddie Gonzalez officially put the game under protest, and then finally, Jason Motte was on to close it out for the Cardinals.
Which he did, making Pete Kozma a folk-hero (or villain) for all of eternity.
The 2019 chapter of this story begins on Thursday, October 3rd at SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
While rosters are yet to be announced, and the health of key players like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Kolten Wong are still in question, here is what we do know -- and most importantly, how you can watch (will update as other times are released!)
What: Game 1
When: Thursday, October 3 @ 4:02 CT
Watch: TBS, MLB.tv
What: Game 2
When: Friday, Ocrober 4th @ 3:37 CT
Where: TBS, MLB.tv
What: Game 3
When: Sunday, October 6th @ 3:10 CT
Where: St. Louis
Where: TBS, MLB.tv
What: Game 4*
When: Monday, October 7th @ TBD
Where: St. Louis
Where: TBS, MLB.tv
What: Game 5*
When: Wednesday, October 9th @ TBD
Where: TBS, MLB.tv