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Interleague play begins for the Cardinals (26-19) on the west side of Missouri when they renew the “I-70 Series” with the Kansas City Royals (21-22) this weekend at Kauffman Stadium.  This will be the first of two series between the interstate rivals.  Last season, the Royals did not visit St. Louis, but they will return to Busch Stadium on the weekend of June 17-19.

Looking at the Cardinals:

The Cardinals finished off a 4-0 home stand on Thursday as they swept the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros.  In 22 road games, the Cardinals have 12 road wins, which is tied for third most in the National League.  The Redbirds currently have a four-game win streak and are 6-4 in their last ten games.

Hitting and pitching has not been a problem for a constantly changing Cardinals lineup and alignment.  However, Tony LaRussa and his staff have been able to pull the right strings.  The offense ranks second, only points behind the Indians in overall batting average.  

Looking at the Royals:

The Royals were able to end a dismal week by beating the Texas Rangers 2-1 with a walk-off win in the tenth inning on Thursday night at Kauffmann Stadium.  Before splitting a two-game series with the Rangers, the Royals were swept by the Cleveland Indians.  Monday night, the Indians trounced the Royals 19-1 at Progressive Field.  At home, Kansas City is 16-11, which is the most home wins in the Major League.  They are 3-7 in their last ten games.

Kansas City’s pitching staff has 4.46 ERA, which ranks near the bottom in all of baseball.  They are second-to-last in opponents batting average with a .270 mark.

The Royals offense is the best so far this season in all of baseball at doubles.  An area in which Kansas City has done well is with runners in scoring position. 

The pitching probables for the series:

Friday: RHP Chris Carpenter (1-3, 4.95) vs. LHP Jeff Francis (0-5, 4.83)

- Chris Carpenter has made ten career starts against the Royals. Carpenter has a record of 5-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 79.1 innings pitched. Seven of those career starts vs. the Royals have come at Kauffmann Stadium where Carpenter has posted a 5-2 record with a 3.56 ERA in 55.2 innings.

- Royals starter Jeff Francis has had success against the Cardinals in the past when he played in the National League with the Colorado Rockies. In eight career starts vs. St. Louis, Francis is 4-1 with 3.48 ERA in 54.1 innings pitched.

Saturday: RHP Jake Westbrook (3-3, 6.07) vs. RHP Nate Adcock (1-0, 2.16)

- Jake Westbrook, formerly with the Cleveland Indians who play in the same division as Kansas City, is very familiar with the Royals and Kauffmann Stadium. In fifteen career starts versus the Royals, Westbrook is 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 104.1 innings. At Kauffmann Stadium, Westbrook has made seven career starts and has posted a 2-0 record with a 3.60 ERA in 45.0 innings.

- Nate Adcock has never faced the Cardinals. This is Adcock’s first big league season with the Royals. Saturday will be his first career start.

Sunday: LHP Jaime Garcia (5-0, 1.64) vs. RHP Sean O’Sullivan (2-3, 4.65)

- Jaime Garcia has faced the Royals once and that start did not go well at Kauffmann Stadium. On June 27, 2010 in a 10-3 loss, Garcia would last only 2.0 innings allowing five runs on four hits and two walks.

- Sean O’Sullivan has never faced the Cardinals either. O’Sullivan has been with the Royals since he was traded by the Los Angeles Angels for Alberto Callaspo in July 2010.

Players to watch:

- Albert Pujols, a native of the Kansas City area from Independence, Missouri, has always had success against the Royals. In ten seasons, Pujols is batting .383 against the Royals with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs in 45 games. His numbers at Kauffman Stadium are very good with a batting average of .383 with 13 home runs in 30 games. Looking at the matchup against Jeff Francis, Pujols is 4-14 with no home runs and one RBI. Pujols’ batting average this season has improved in the month of May, yet he’s not been able to hit a home run since late April.

- Alex Gordon has a .347 batting average with 4 home runs and 11 RBIs in 12 games against the Cardinals. He’s been cold at the plate through the last week batting only .150. However, Gordon is much better at Kauffmann Stadium where he’s batting .308. He’s hit all 3 of his home runs and driven in 19 of his 23 RBI’s at home.

Recent history:

In 2010, the Cardinals visited the Royals in Kansas City and lost two out of three on the weekend of June 25-27. Zack Greinke, now with the Milwaukee Brewers, led the Royals to a 4-2 win in the first game. Colby Rasmus and Skip Schumaker gave the Cardinals an early lead en route to a 5-3 win to even up the series. In the finale, the Royals offense tuned up Jaime Garcia and Adam Ottavino to take the series with a dominating 10-3 win.

Broadcast times:

Tune into KMOX 1120 AM on Friday at 6:10pm for the Charter Communications Pregame Show. The Saturday and Sunday broadcasts will each start at 12:20pm.

Copyright KMOX Radio

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