There might not be an interleague series this season that exemplifies two teams moving in completely opposite directions quite like the Cardinals-Orioles match-up does. The Orioles look to capitalize on a positive series win against reigning NL MVP Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds tonight against the injury-ridden St. Louis Cardinals.
Baltimore is 6-6 in interleague play this season, with four of those wins coming at Camden Yards. In three games against the Reds, the Orioles clubbed nine home runs, including a pair by Derek Lee.
Right fielder Nick Markakis is riding an exciting 16-game hit streak in which he is batting .405. On the other side of the coin, Oriole pitchers allowed 19 runs against the second place NL Central team. Baltimore looks to keep the bats hot tonight against the ailing St. Louis Cardinals, who will be playing their seventh game without their superstar Albert Pujols.
While the Orioles look to continue their success, the Cardinals are hoping to simply stay alive this week as they enter Baltimore. St. Louis is 4-5 in interleague play this season, and their 1-5 slide since losing Pujols, combined with a series sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, is starting to send them into a downward spiral.
The Cardinals, who are still three games above .500 on the season, do have a few bright spots in their lineup. Rejuvenated slugger Lance Berkman is batting .297 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs, all of which lead the team. Berkman, who only has 5 hits in the past week, has been a monster on the road, batting an impressive .308 in opposing ballparks.
Game 1: Tuesday, June 28 at 7:05 pm – RHP Kyle Lohse vs. LHP Zach Britton
Zach Britton (6-5, 3.14 ERA) looks to get his phenomenal start to the season back on track tonight in the series opener. In his previous start Britton went six innings, allowing three runs in a loss in Pittsburgh. He allowed seven hits against the Pirates and struck out five.
The Cardinals will send veteran right-hander Kyle Lohse (7-4, 2.91 ERA) to the mound to battle the O’s. In his last appearance, Lohse nearly went the distance, throwing eight innings against the Philadelphia Phillies, allowing three runs in a loss.
Game 2: Wednesday, June 29 at 7:05 pm – RHP Chris Carpenter vs. RHP Chris Jakubauskas
Chris Jakubauskas (2-0, 5.18 ERA) wants to continue doing exactly what the Orioles want him to do. Coming into the season, Jakubauskas wasn’t expected to join the starting rotation. However, due to circumstances beyond the club’s control, Chris has stepped into the picture as an emergency starter, and has done his job. Don’t look for Jakubauskas to go much further than five innings.
Chris Carpenter (2-7, 4.26 ERA) won his last start in impressive fashion, going seven innings, striking out seven while only surrendering five hits. Before that, Carpenter faced the Royals in a bout that ended with 10 hits on his line.
Game 3: Thursday, June 30 at 7:05 pm – RHP Jake Westbrook vs. LHP Brian Matusz
Brian Matusz (1-3, 6.85 ERA) is worrying the Orioles. His severe drop in velocity since returning from injury, combined with only 11 innings pitched in his last three starts, make Orioles fans cringe. Matusz has suffered a loss in his last three outings.
Jake Westbrook (6-4, 5.32 ERA) has been hit or miss in his last six starts, winning three. In his most recent appearance against Toronto, Westbrook allowed four runs and gave up 10 hits in only 4.1 innings of work.
This match-up in particularly interesting considering both starters are coming off terrible outings. An impressive start by Matusz would not only do wonders for the Orioles, but also for the young pitcher’s confidence.
By the numbers:
- As the current team from St. Louis enters the home of the former team from St. Louis, the Cardinals look to extend the all-time series, which is currently in their favor at 1-2.
- Derek Lee is two hits shy of 1,900 for his career, Luke Scott is eight shy of 600 for his career, and Nick Markakis 23 shy of 1,000. Markakis also needs five more home runs to reach the 100 milestone.
- Jim Johnson leads all AL relievers with 46.1 innings pitched. This may come in handy seeing as the three expected Oriole starters have combined for a low 15.2 innings in their respective last starts.