The St. Louis Cardinals are trying to stay afloat with their top slugger on the DL, and a visit from Kansas City could help.
The Cardinals will try to continue their success against their cross-state rivals as they open a three-game Interstate 70 series versus the Royals at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis (42-29) has taken advantage of its yearly matchups with Kansas City, going 26-19 against the Royals (28-42) since interleague play began in 1997. The teams split their six games in 2007, but that marked the sixth straight year the Cardinals either tied or won the season series against the Royals.
St. Louis could use a similar result this season, with slugger Albert Pujols on the disabled list due to a strained left calf. The Cardinals are 3-2 so far without Pujols, who is expected to miss three to four weeks.
Pujols has tormented the Royals in the past, hitting .394 (54-for-137) with 10 homers and 38 RBIs in 33 career games against them. However, while Kansas City knows it may have dodged a bullet in this series, its pitchers are hardly expecting to relax.
“They’re all major league hitters,” Kyle Davies (2-0, 1.53 ERA), who starts the opener for the Royals, told his team’s official Web site. “It’s pretty much (the same) with anybody - if you make good pitches down in the zone, you get them out, no matter who’s up there.
“You might have a little bit of leeway with someone who’s not Pujols.”
The second-place Cardinals are trying to keep pace with the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, who own a 3 1/2-game lead in the division. St. Louis took two of three from Philadelphia over the weekend, including Sunday’s 10-inning, 7-6 win. Left fielder Skip Schumaker went 2-for-5 with a homer to cap his 7-for-14 effort in the series.
On the downside for St. Louis, catcher Yadier Molina was run over on a tag play in the ninth inning and had to be held overnight at a hospital for evaluation of neck and back pain. Molina sustained a mild concussion, and his status for this series is uncertain.
The Royals, meanwhile, took two of three games against NL West-leading Arizona, including an 8-3 victory on Sunday. David DeJesus hit his first career grand slam and knocked in a career-best five RBIs in the series finale for Kansas City, which pounded out 20 runs and 31 hits in the last two games of the series.
“It’s a big deal for us right now with what we’ve been through this season, some of the ups and the downs,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “Hopefully, this is the start of a long upswing for us.”
The Royals will be try to generate similar run support for Davies, who is making his fourth start of the season. He won his first two, but the bullpen blew his chance at a third straight win Wednesday when he yielded one run in six innings of Kansas City’s 11-5 loss to Texas.
Davies is making his first career start against the Cardinals, who will hand the ball to Joel Pineiro (2-3, 4.41) for his second start after a stint on the DL with a right groin strain.
The right-hander gave up two runs in five innings without getting a decision in the Cardinals’ 6-2 loss in Cincinnati on Thursday - his first start since May 20.
Pineiro is 0-1 in five starts since his last win on April 29 against Cincinnati. He is 4-1 with a 3.47 ERA in nine career appearances - five starts - against the Royals.