Cheap Seats

Series Preview: Cardinals @ Astros

The Cardinals' quest for the post season has rapidly degenerated into the Albert Pujols Triple Crown Watch. So, while I'm not expecting much from the team against a lousy Astros club, at least Pujols should be fun to watch in one of the most offensively oriented ballparks in the big leagues.

Pujols is a .326 hitter with 23 homers and 46 RBIs in 80 career games at the Juice Box -- formerly known as 10 Run Field. The only opposing ballparks where he has hit more homers are Wrigley Field and PNC Park where he has 24 apiece.

In 2010, Pujols is hitting .447 against the Astros with four homers, 11 runs scored and 12 RBIs in 12 games.

                           AVG             HR              RBI

Albert Pujols        .320(3)         35(1)          95(1)

Joey Votto           .325(2)          32(2)          93(2)

Carlos Gozalez    .327(1)          29(4)         90(3)

Pitching matchups:

Jake Westbrook
(1-2, 4.06) takes on J.A. Happ (3-2, 4.26) in the opening game of the series. Westbrook is 0-1 with a 5.23 in his career against the Astros. Happ has started six games for the Astros since being picked up in the Roy Halladay trade. Only one of them was a bad one -- and that was against the Cardinals. Go figure. Usually the Birds make crummy pitchers look great, they don't make highly thought of young hurlers look bad... Alas, in his career against St. Louis, the former Phillies starter is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA.

In the middle game, Chris Carpenter (14-4, 2.93) matches up against Wandy Rodriguez (10-12, 3.87). Carpenter is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in his last three starts. He's 7-4 with a 2.82 ERA in his career against Houston. Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez is 4-117 in his career against the Cardinals with a 4.30 ERA. But he's been hot lately with a 1.80 ERA in his last three games, although he only has a 1-1 record in that span.

The Cardinals have announced that they will skip rookie Jaime Garcia his next turn in the rotation. He'll be replaced in the finale by Jeff Suppan (1-6, 5.72) who will be well rested after three weeks on the disabled list. Suppan is 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA since rejoining the Cardinals. He'll be opposed by Nelson Figueroa (1-1, 2.15). Suppan was pitching well before going on the shelf with a slight oblique strain. He was 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA in his previous three starts. But, in his career, he's 5-12 with a 5.12 ERA against the Astros. Figueroa 2-1 with a 4.14 ERA in his career against the Cardinals.