No one is quite sure what to expect from the one-game format, which was added this year when Major League Baseball expanded the playoff field by adding a second wild-card team in each league.
One-and-done may be the norm in football. But this is a whole new ballgame for the big leagues.
"We know the necessity to make it like a Game 7," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You do things differently. We've been anticipating it, but I also want these guys to know we just want to go out and play the game we've been playing."
Besides, St. Louis knows it's just fortunate to have a chance to win another title. The Cardinals finished six games behind Atlanta in the wild-card standings. If not for the new system, they would be watching from home.
"We're exceptionally happy about the format," Matheny said with a smile.
Despite losing Albert Pujols last winter in free agency, the Cardinals have a chance to pull off another magical postseason run. A year ago, they trailed the Braves by 10½ games in late August, but Atlanta collapsed over the final month and St. Louis pulled out the wild card on a frenetic final day. That momentum carried right into the playoffs, where the Redbirds pulled off three straight upsets, including another stunning rally against Texas in the World Series.
Pujols may be gone. But there's plenty of holdovers from the title team, including Lohse (16-3, 2.86).
"A lot of guys with me in that clubhouse, they experienced last year from being 10½ back and a lot of people kind of saying, 'Go get 'em next year,'" he said. "It helped us mature a lot and grow a lot as individuals and learn how to handle big situations like the one that's coming up."