the matchup: METS vs. CUBs

This season: The Cubs swept the season series 7-0, winning four games at Chicago's Wrigley Field May 11-14, then three games at New York's Citi Field June 30-July 2. Four of the games were decided by one run, and another went 11 innings. All the games occurred before the Mets' late-July makeover.

In the postseason: These teams have never met in the playoffs, though they squared off in some memorable pennant races when they were NL East rivals (1969, '84, '89).

How they got here

Cubs: In their first season under manager Joe Maddon, the streaking Cubs (97-65) made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 by earning the second NL wild card. They won 4-0 at Pittsburgh in the wild-card game, then eliminated NL Central champion St. Louis in four games in the Division Series, thus eliminating the majors' top two teams.

Mets: Back in the playoffs for the first time in nine years, the NL East champion Mets (90-72) beat the Dodgers in five games to advance this far. They took Games 1 and 5 in Los Angeles behind the pitching of Jacob deGrom and Jeurys Familia and the offense of Daniel Murphy, who homered three times in the series.

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Youth served: Both teams feature rookies and other youngsters playing crucial roles, but neither got rattled one bit in the early stages of the playoffs. Now they have some October experience to draw on, and poise under pressure remains a major theme for all the players in their early-to-mid-20s.

On the 6: Both teams are missing their starting shortstop. Javier Baez takes over for Cubs rookie Addison Russell, who strained his left hamstring in the NLDS. Wilmer Flores stepped in for New York when Ruben Tejada broke his right leg on a late takeout slide by Chase Utley in Game 2 vs. the Dodgers.

Bench bosses: The Cubs' Joe Maddon and the Mets' Terry Collins are leading contenders for NL Manager of the Year. The colorful Maddon is an unconventional free spirit who is also an expert at handling his bullpen. Collins, at 66 the oldest skipper in the majors, is managing in the postseason for the first time. He made several tough decisions that paid off in Game 5.

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