The St. Louis Cardinals open a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night. The weekend will be a study in contrasts. The Blue Jays lead MLB with 87 home runs. The Cardinals are in 29th place, with 32. The Blue Jays have five players with 10 or more four-baggers–Brett Lawrie, Melky Cabrera, and Juan Francisco(!) each have 10, while Jose Bautista has 14 and Edwin Encarnacion has hit 19.
The Cardinals are 2-9 in their last 11 games, having just dropped three of four against the cross-state Kansas City Royals, who presently reside in fourth place in the American League Central. The AL East-leading Blue Jays are coming off a sweep in Detroit of the Tigers, who are atop the AL Central. They have won 14 of their last 16 games.
What you need to know: Marcus Stroman makes his second major league start against Lance Lynn on Friday. The Blue Jays made Stroman their first pick in the 2012 amateur draft. The rest of the pairings: Shelby Miller goes on Saturday versus the MLB leader in wins, Mark Buehrle, and Jaime Garcia faces Drew Hutchison in the finale.
Encarnacion missed Thursday’s game as a precautionary measure. He has been experiencing back tightness, but is expected back for tonight’s game. He, along with Bautista and Adam Lind, are all hot right now, with the latter batting .349.
The air is playing thin in Rogers Centre, formerly known as the SkyDome, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Home runs will be hit during the three days; the ratio slammed by Cardinals is yet to be determined.
Notables missing: Starting pitcher Brandon Morrow is out until July with a torn ligament in his right index finger. The enigmatic power pitcher stymied the Cardinals in Toronto a few years ago. Center fielder Colby Rasmus is in extended spring training in Florida after hurting his hamstring on May 13. Cardinals fans won’t have Colby to kick around during the commercials. Anthony Gose will be in center field tonight.
The Best Fans in Baseball are in for a treat this weekend. Will the Homer Dome do the trick for a moribund attack? Or will the powerful Jays show them the exit amid a swirl of Canadian cheers?