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Series Preview: Cardinals @ Orioles, 28-30 June

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I know! I am also shocked at how well I am playing baseball this year!
I know! I am also shocked at how well I am playing baseball this year!

Even though I'm not a big interleague fan, it is always kind of fun when a brand new team comes to Camden Yards. It just happened this weekend with Cincinnati, and is happening again tonight when the St. Louis Cardinals come to town. The Orioles have faced the Cardinals in one other interleague series, way back in 2003. They went 1-2 in that series, with Sidney Ponson getting the only win. So, times have changed since then.

Fortunately for the Orioles, but unfortunately for the fans that were looking forward to seeing him in person, Albert Pujols is on the disabled list and won't get the opportunity to mash against Orioles pitchers.

The Cardinals are currently 41-38 and in second place in the NL Central, three games behind the Brewers. Like the Reds, the Cardinals have a number of good hitters that I'd say are probably better than the Orioles pitching. Pujols may be injured, but Matt Holliday is having a fantastic season, hitting .330/.432/.553. Also, surprisingly, so is Lance Berkman. Apparently he just needed to move back to the NL to regain his mojo, as he's got an OPS of .980. Yadier Molina and Colby Rasmus are also having fine offensive seasons, though the offensive prowess drops off after that.

Tonight, Zach Britton faces off against Kyle Lohse, who is having himself a fine season. In 15 starts, Lohse has pitched to a 2.91 ERA, though is FIP (3.72) and xFIP (3.78) are a bit worse. Lohse doesn't walk many or strike out many batters, but rather pitches to contact and tends to induce ground balls. That doesn't make me feel good about the Orioles chances.

Tomorrow night, Chris Jakubauskas has the task of outpitching Chris Carpenter. Carpenter's 4.26 ERA isn't impressive, but he's been pitching better than that according to his 3.36 FIP. Carpenter has a career BABIP of .297, and so far this year it's up to .323. That's not all tough luck, though, as he's giving up more line drives and less ground balls than usual.

In the series finale, Brian Matusz will try to right the ship against Jake Westbrook. Seriously, Jake Westbrook is still playing baseball? He seems a million years old (he's only 34, turns out). Westbrook is not having a good year. He has a 5.32 ERA and is just barely striking out more guys than he's walking. This is, of course, a huge game for Matusz as the Orioles try to figure out if he needs to go to the minors or possibly back on the disabled list.

The O's lucked out in that they're not facing the only lefty in the Cardinals rotation, Jaime Garcia. I suspect he would make mincemeat out of the Orioles lineup.

With the Orioles offense heating up, it's hard to say what will happen this series. I think it'll all come down to pitching. Britton has been hit or miss lately, Jakubauskas will probably pitch 5 innings and give up 3 runs, and I can't even begin to guess what will happen with Matusz. The pessimist (realist?) in me thinks that the Orioles will only manage to take one out of the series, but it wouldn't be too shocking if they won two. I don't know, man. I guess I'm wishy-washy on this one. If the Orioles can win the series, they will finish with a >.500 record in June. Currently this month they are 11-11.