March 30, 2012; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (26) pitches during a spring training game against the New York Mets at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE
By Nora Farrell
(The Cardinal Nation Show) -- When the I-70 series begins tonight, there will be more at stake than just wins and losses. State bragging rights between Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals fans depend on the outcome of the meeting between the two teams. Over a span of the next 10 days the two teams will face each other six times. The Cardinals lead the all-time series 38-28.
Both teams will look to right-handers to keep their winning streaks going. Kansas City comes to St. Louis after sweeping the Brewers in three one-run games. The Cardinals have won their past two and looked to be regaining their offensive form in last night's game.
Kyle Lohse will make the start for the Cardinals. He is 6-and-1 on the year with a 2.90 ERA. He has pitched especially well in the month of June allowing only one run and holding opposing batters to a .106 average in 13 2/3 innings of work. A win tonight would also mark Lohse's eighth consecutive start without a loss.
Kansas City will start Mazzaro. Mazzaro is 2-and-1 on the year with a 3. 60 ERA but is coming off a rough outing last Saturday in Pittsburg when he lasted only three innings after allowing four runs. In two career starts against St. Louis Mazzaro has a 5.73 ERA.
Kansas City will be facing a former second round draft pick in Carlos Beltran. Beltran played for the Royals from 1998-2004 and won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1999. Beltran currently leads the National League with 19 homeruns. Before Thursday's game, Beltran was responsible for half of the runs scored in the first five games of this home stand. Although the Cardinals are still 2nd in the MLB in batting average they will need to continue to have success at the plate and not rely only on Beltran for runs.
Between now and the All-Star Break the Cardinals will have 12 games at home and nine on the road. The opponents have a combined 145-and-166 record, but the final stretch includes a three game series against the Pittsburg Pirates. The Pirates also sit three games out of first in the NL Central.
The Cardinals will have a good opportunity to gain ground in the NL Central where the trail the Cincinnati Reds by three games. Kansas City will be looking to continue their win streak and seek revenge on the Cardinals who won four of six against the Royals in 2011.
The Cardinals will go for their third win in a row tonight against the in-state rival Royals.
First pitch is set for 7:15.