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PREVIEW: Posey, Giants on doorstep of 2nd World Series title in three years

Buster Posey, the Leesburg native who is widely considered the leading candidate to win NL MVP, leads the Giants into Game 1 of the NLCS tonight in San Francisco.

Buster Posey, the Leesburg native who is widely considered the leading candidate to win NL MVP, leads the Giants into Game 1 of the NLCS tonight in San Francisco.

Want To Watch?

WHO: St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants.

WHAT: NLCS, Game 1.

WHEN: 8 p.m. today.

WHERE: AT&T Park, San Francisco.

TV: FOX.

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s hopes for repeating as World Series champs crashed and burned in 2011 all in a matter of seconds late one night against the Florida Marlins last May when Buster Posey fell to a heap following a home-plate collision, which caused him to miss the rest of the year.

But in walked a healthy Posey in 2012 — and just like that, the Giants were contenders again

Posey, the Leesburg native who captured his first NL batting title this season, has led the Giants to their third trip to the NLCS in three years thanks to a remarkable journey filled with rehab, resilience and redemption.

“To come off a devastating injury like he had and bounce back and not just have a good year but win a batting title is truly amazing to me,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com on Saturday as the Giants prepared to open Game 1 of the NLCS tonight at home against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Both teams have had to pull off the improbable to reach today’s big stage, but no player on either roster has had to overcome the individual struggles that Posey experienced.

Posey worked nonstop during the offseason with Giants trainer Dave Groeschner and his staff to recover from the broken left leg and torn tendons he suffered in the collision.

“I give a lot of credit to Dave and the entire staff for all the work they did to get me back on the field,” Posey told the website.

And by all accounts, he’s better than ever.

Posey batted .336 to win the NL batting title, becoming only the third catcher in the modern era to do so.

Now, he’s a leading candidate to win the NL MVP, although that award won’t be handed out until after the end of the World Series.

Posey hopes to be hoisting his second World Series title by then after leading the Giants as a rookie in 2010 to their first series crown since moving from New York to San Francisco.

The injury is now a thing of the past to Posey. All he and the Giants are thinking about at this point is another trophy to decorate their hallway overlooking the Bay.

“We thought we were going to have to treat him with kid gloves and he just responded so well,” Bochy said. “His ankle got cranky a couple of times, but we kept an eye on him and gave him his time off, which ended up benefiting him and us at the end when we could throw him out there more.”

Posey, who saw some time at first base this season and in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, will likely be behind the plate for the entire NLCS against the Cardinals, who are coming off a wild win Friday — just like the Giants on Thursday — to advance.

Bochy doesn’t need another look to know how impressive the reigning World Series champions’ ninth-inning comeback was for a 9-7 victory in the nation’s capital late Friday night against the Washington Nationals.

Bochy’s team had its own remarkable rally that’s not quite as fresh as the Cardinals’ feat: Three road wins at Cincinnati to advance after dropping the first two games of the division series at home to the Reds.

The last two World Series winners sure are showing their championship mettle in mid-October.

They will face off in Game 1 of the NLCS tonight at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner gets the ball for the Giants at home against 6-foot-5 right-hander Lance Lynn.

While the Giants became the eighth team to come back from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series and first to do it on the road, the Cardinals earned the biggest comeback ever in a winner-take-all postseason game, according to STATS LLC.

The Giants, all the while, waited out the game on their team plane still parked on the tarmac in Cincinnati. Players gathered around iPads to watch the improbable comeback by a Cardinals club managed by former Giants catcher, Matheny.

The Cardinals have won all six of their games when facing elimination the past two years, down to their final strike not once but twice against the Texas Rangers in last year’s World Series before prevailing.

This time, they did it against the team with 98 wins.

Road weary and riding high, the Cardinals and Giants are counting on more close games and playing all 27 outs — or more.

“It’s definitely a fun matchup,” said Posey, whose grand slam helped seal Game 5 against the Reds. “These should be some fun games to watch. Both teams have good arms, good offenses. And the resiliency of both teams is the strength of both teams.”