ST. LOUIS, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Barry Bonds leads the San Francisco Giants into Busch Stadium Wednesday night for Game One of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the American League, the Minnesota Twins continue their unlikely postseason run when they host the Anaheim Angels in Game Two of the Championship Series, one night winning the opener of the seven-game set, 2-1.
Both games are scheduled to begin shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Bonds broke out of a career-long playoff slump in a five-game NL Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, going 5-for-17 with three home runs, including a key blast in the series-clinching 3-1 win at Turner Field Monday night.
In the Braves game, Bonds won a playoff series for the first time in six tries.
"Obviously, performing well in the postseason gives him more confidence," said Matt Morris, the Cardinals' starting pitcher in Game One. "We don't need him to have any more confidence than he has already."
Over the past two seasons, Bonds has become one of the most dominant figures in the history of the sport, setting single-season records for homers (73), walks (198), intentional walks (68), on-base percentage (.582) and slugging percentage (.863).
Even at age 38, Bonds, who shows no signs of slowing down, this past became the oldest first-time winner of a batting crown, hitting .370.
"Man, he's like a good wine," said Morris, who has held Bonds to a .154 batting average. "He seems to get better and better. It's phenomenal what he's doing now."
Even so, Bonds has help.
"I look at the Giants and I see a very well-balanced team," said Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa. "They have got a glittering superstar that's the most dangerous player playing, but they also have a very good team around him."
The Cardinals might have the best lineup of the four teams remaining in the postseason. It contains scrappy Fernando Vina, Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols and playoff-tested Tino Martinez stacking the middle of the lineup.
"They have some speed, they have some scrappers, they have some guys that can hit you out of the park, they have some guys that can make contact," said Giants Manager Dusty Baker. "They have a well-balanced attack."
Illinois native Kirk Rueter will start Game One for San Francisco. Ironically, he grew up a Cardinals fan. The lefthander has had great success against his hometown team, going 9-3 with a 2.72 ERA against the Cards, with a 5-0 mark and 2.28 ERA at Busch.
"It's always good to be back home, just to sleep in my own bed and go see my 'Shed' and get to see all of the family and friends that I don't get to see for eight months out of the year," he said. "I always enjoy coming back."
Morris has had almost as much success against the Giants, going 4-2 with a 1.59 ERA. He also has outpitched NL Cy Young Award favorite Randy Johnson of Arizona in the NLDS, and has a 1.62 ERA in seven career postseason appearances.
"It's going to be a great challenge, but I look forward to it," said Morris, who won 22 games in 2001. "I faced them a couple of times during the year and had some success, so I have some confidence going into it."
The Metrodome also will be rocking Wednesday night, especially after the Twins took Game one of the ALCS. Minnesota improved to 13-2 all-time in the playoffs at the Metrodome, 2-1 this year.
In the postseason for the first time since they won the 1991 World Series, the Twins turn to veteran righty Rick Reed against Ramon Ortiz as they try to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.