Led by Albert Pujols, the Cardinals hope to continue their winning ways over the Royals when the Interstate-70 series opens Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.
St. Louis (27-33) beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-6 on Sunday for its first win in six interleague games this season. The Cardinals also snapped a three-game losing streak, prior to which they had won six of seven.
The Cardinals have a 79-72 interleague record, but went 5-10 against the American League last season and are off to a poor start in 2007. St. Louis has been outscored 53-32 by Detroit and the Angels while its pitchers have posted a 9.18 ERA in six interleague games.
While the Tigers and Angels are both well above .500, the Royals (24-40) own the second-worst record in the majors and St. Louis has had little trouble beating them in recent years.
The Cardinals are 17-7 against their in-state rivals over the past four seasons, including a 4-2 mark in 2006. St. Louis has won 10 of its last 11 games in Kansas City, and has won all five of its series at Kauffman Stadium since 2001.
“I’m excited about it,” right-hander Brad Thompson told the Cardinals’ official Web site leading up to his start Tuesday. “I definitely think it’s a rivalry. There’s a lot of Cards fans there.”
Pujols should be looking forward to returning to Kansas City. Pujols, whose family moved there from the Dominican Republic when he was a teenager, is batting .400 (30-for-75) with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 18 games at Kauffman.
“It’s always fun (to go to Kansas City),” said Pujols, who had two homers and five RBIs on Sunday. “I get to see my family. I just hope that we can carry these two good swings over to Kansas City and have a great series.”
After a slow start, Pujols is batting .299 with 15 homers, including six in his last seven games as he’s driven in 12 runs.
Thompson (4-1, 4.56 ERA) is 3-1 since entering the starting rotation in early May. He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings on Wednesday, but did not factor in the decision of a 6-4 win over Cincinnati.
Thompson will be making his first start against Kansas City, but has a 1.50 ERA in four appearances against the Royals.
Kansas City posted a season high for runs in a 17-5 win over Philadelphia on Sunday, taking two of three from the Phillies and improving to 4-2 in interleague action.
The offensive barrage came one game after the Royals were shut out for the third time in 10 games.
“It’s been frustrating all year offensively. Hopefully, this can trigger a groove going,” said Kansas City second baseman Grudzielanek, who went 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs.
Grudzielanek, who spent 2005 with St. Louis, has two home runs and seven RBIs over his last three games. He is a .317 lifetime hitter against the Cardinals.
“I have a lot of friends over there,” Grudzielanek told the Royals’ official Web site. “It’s going to be fun to see some familiar faces and have a good time over there.”
Brian Bannister (2-3, 3.33) looks to win his third straight start when he faces the Cardinals for the first time on Tuesday. The right-hander allowed five hits and one unearned run in seven innings of the Royals’ 4-3 win at Cleveland on Wednesday. He did not walk a batter for the second straight outing.