LOS ANGELES -- The Cardinals arrived in Los Angeles with ideal positioning. Not only did they enter Monday's Game 3 with a handle on a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series, but they had taken two games started by Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.
There is, however, no palpable sense of complacency. Those who were with the Cards in 2012 remember well the sting of losing a 3-1 NLCS lead against the eventual World Series champion Giants.
"We have a sense of urgency, I believe, all the time," manager Mike Matheny said. "There's really nothing different to do. Now, if guys started backing off, it would be very contrary to anything we've seen all season long, and we would make a point to try and right the ship. ... But what we learned last year is just how fragile this is and how quickly it can get away from you."
The Cardinals had one chance to close out last year's NLCS at home, which they could not do behind starter Lance Lynn. The series then shifted back to San Francisco, where the Cards could not get deep starts by either Chris Carpenter or Kyle Lohse. The club ended up being outscored, 20-1, over the final three games of the series.
Only once before has a team jumped out to a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven NLCS and not advanced to the World Series. Interestingly, that was back in 1985, when the Cardinals came back on the Dodgers in the only previous NLCS meeting between these two clubs.
"We're approaching this like what it is right now," Carlos Beltran said. "We have a two-game lead, but that doesn't mean anything. We have to get it done. We have to find a way to finish this and move up to the World Series."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.