Coming off a dominant road trip that saw them win five of six games, the St. Louis Cardinals return to Busch Stadium on Friday to begin the first of two 10-game homestands this season.
It'll be Colorado (three games), the New York Mets (four) and Milwaukee (three) providing the opposition.
Colorado is the lone above-.500 team in the group, and the Rockies have surprised many with their 19-15 record that has them contending in the National League West under new manager Walt Weiss.
First pitch Friday is 7:15 p.m., with Shelby Miller (4-2, 1.96 ERA) taking the mound for St. Louis against Jon Garland (3-2, 4.75 ERA). Garland is 1-5 with a 5.79 ERA in six career games against the Cardinals, all of them starts. Miller never has faced the Rockies.
Scouting the Rockies
Offense has been the key for Colorado. Through Wednesday, the Rockies led the NL in runs (168), hits (325), batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging percentage (.464).
And for those who believe the Rockies' statistics are inflated by playing at hitter-friendly Coors Field, think again. Their on-base percentage is higher on the road and their slugging percentage is just 26 points higher at home (.477 to .451).
Carrying the load have been catcher Wilin Rosario (.297, seven home runs, 19 RBIs), shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.348-7-28), left fielder Carlos Gonzalez (.311-7-18), center fielder Dexter Fowler (.279-8-15) and right fielder Michael Cuddyer (.328-7-24).
On the bump
Adam Wainwright (4-2, 2.72 ERA) will pitch against Jhoulys Chacin (3-1, 2.56) ERA in the second game of the series at 1:15 p.m. Saturday. Jaime Garcia (4-1, 2.25 ERA) will be opposed by Jorge De La Rosa (3-3, 3.52 ERA) in the series finale at 1:15 p.m. Sunday.
Wainwright is 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA in nine games, including five starts, against Colorado. Chacin has pitched in just two career games against the Cardinals, one of them a start.
Garcia has been rocked by Colorado in three career starts, going 0-2 with an 11.85 ERA and allowing 26 hits in 13 2/3 innings. De La Rosa is 4-3 with a 5.40 ERA in 13 games vs. St. Louis, seven of them starts.
The other seven
Following the series against the Rockies, the Cardinals will play four games against the Mets and three against the Brewers. The homestand ends May 19, and the Cardinals follow it with eight road games against San Diego, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City.
Road trip rewind
The Cardinals (21-12) outscored Milwaukee and the Cubs 35-17 to go 5-1 on the road trip. Their only loss was a 2-1 decision to the Cubs, and two of their wins went to rookie reliever Seth Maness.
By the numbers
Offensive leaders for the Cardinals are catcher Yadier Molina in batting average (.339) and hits (42), first baseman Allen Craig in RBIs (26), infielder Matt Carpenter in doubles (12) and runs scored (26) and right fielder Carlos Beltran in home runs (eight). ... Third baseman David Freese hasn't hit a regular-season home run in 93 at-bats ... Center fielder Jon Jay is on a 10-for-20 tear that has lifted his average from .204 to .257. ... Edward "Chief" Mujica is 9-for-9 in save opportunities, and in those games, he has no walks and nine strikeouts in nine innings, allowing a .156 average.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.