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Series Preview: Cardinals at Blue Jays

A conspiracy of factors could make the Cardinals upcoming road series in Toronto a very tough test.

The Blue Jays, at first glance, have a very similar record to the Cardinals. Toronto is 38-32 while St. Louis checks in at 38-31. But the Redbirds built that record playing a disproportionate amount of their games against the weak sisters of the National League Central. Meanwhile, the Jays are at least holding their own in the ultra competitive American League Central where the streaking Red Sox have chased down the Yankees and Rays.

Toronto also will send two tough lefties to the hill to make things complicated. On the other side of the coin, the Birds at times have had problems keeping opposing hitters in the park -- and the Blue Jays are far and away the most home run hittingest team in the majors. Also, once upon a time, the Cardinals played almost all of their games on artificial turf. Now they rarely play on it, so it will be interesting to see how the defense and pitching hold up on a faster surface.

The Cardinals are 6-3 in interleague play this year and are 15-9 on the road. In Aprile they were 15-8, since then they're 23-23 including an 8-9 June so far.

Pitching matchups:

In the opener, rookie Jaime Garcia (6-3, 1.59) will face southpaw Brett Cecil (7-3, 7.58). Cecil is 5-1 in his last six starts, but even more scary is the fact that the second year pitcher has never faced the Cardinals... And we know how our hitters are a little shy when first meeting a new pitcher. Garcia continues to hold down the second-lowest ERA in the National League. He's allowed only two homers in 80 1/3 innings so far in 2010.

Chris Carpenter (8-1, 2.83) starts the middle game against lefty Ricky Romero(6-3, 3.08). Romero, another second year starter, has also never faced the Cardinals. The Redbirds swing at a lot of bad pitches, so Romero could be a real challenge because he leads the American League with 15 wild pitches so far in 2010. Carp started his career with the Blue Jays and is 22-28 with a 4.86 ERA in the former Sky Dome. But he's 1-0 against Toronto as a Cardinal, throwing a one hit complete game shutout in his only appearance against his old club.

In the finale, the Cardinals send Adam Wainwright(10-4, 2.23) to the mound to face righty Brandon Morrow (4-5, 4.97). Wainwright has never pitched against the Blue Jays but he's 4-2 with a 1.85 ERA over the last month. Morrow is 1-1 with a 2.32 ERA over the last month. He's never faced the Redbirds before.