The Cardinals were well positioned against Toronto with their top three starters -- you know, the guys who are still healthy -- lined up to all face the Blue Jays.
They'll pay for that now with the bottom of the barrel being scraped up for the upcoming three-game set in Kansas City.
The Birds send reclamation project Jeff Suppan (0-2, 6.81) to the hill Friday night against Royals ace Zack Greinke (2-8, 3.94). Suppan is still stretching out from his stay in Milwaukee's bullpen. He hasn't made it into the fifth inning in any of his two previous starts with the Cardinals, so it's tough to imagine he'll make it too much farther this time around. Greinke hasn't been getting much help from the offense, so he's better than his record would indicate. But he seems to be a notch down from the dominating stuff he had in 2009 when he was the best pitcher in the American League.
The Cardinals haven't yet announced who will be their starter in the Saturday middle game. Manager Tony La Russa has hinted that it will be Blake Hawksworth. But Adam Ottavino, arguably the most successful of the crew that has filled in the fifth starter slot for Kyle Lohse, has been recalled from Class AAA Memphis. Regardless of who starts, look for the Redbirds to clear out the bullpen in this one -- unless they have to burn it up Friday in support of Suppan. If that's the case, this could be a looooooong game. The Royals start Kyle Davies (4-5, 6.15). The Birds need to find some way to be patient, although it's obviously not their nature. Davies walked seven during his last start against Atlanta. He's 1-3 lifetime against the Cardinals.
Jaime Garcia (7-3, 1.79) will start the finale against Bruce Chen (3-2, 3.96). Chen worries me because he's just the sort of mediocre lefty that seems to give them fits. But he's 0-3 with a 7.31 ERA lifetime against the Cardinals. So, hopefully, they can break the mold.
Reliever Fernando Salas, who pitched very well Thursday after Adam Wainwright left the Cardinals game against Toronto, was the odd man out in the Ottavino call up.
Albert Pujols, with deep ties to Kansas City, kills the Royals. He's batting .394 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs against them in 50 games. Hopefully this will be what it takes to spark Pujols.