The Royals took two out of three against the Cardinals in St. Louis last weekend, with a game-ending play at home, a five-run comeback and a last-strike pinch-hit home run providing the highlights for Kansas City fans.
Despite the success, Royals manager Ned Yost still believed his team to be at a disadvantage in the National League ballpark.
"You come and play these games in a National League park, and quite frankly, it's a disadvantage to us because we can't play the team the way we built it to be played," Yost said. "We get back into our American League parks, back into the American League schedule, we get the team that we built to play every day back."
Yost is referring to the either-or decision that had to be made daily in NL parks between Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler at first base.
Hosmer started all three games in St. Louis last weekend, but Butler, normally the designated hitter, still made the Cardinals pay with his game-tying home run as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Sunday's game. Butler then started three straight at first in Houston.
Now, back at Kauffman Stadium and playing by AL rules, the Royals won't have to choose between the two.
Cardinals starter Joe Kelly will have to deal with the stronger Royals lineup. The rookie made his second Major League start -- both no-decisions -- on Saturday against Kansas City. The righty went just 4 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk.
The Royals will give the ball to Vin Mazzaro, whose last start came against the Cards. The right-hander picked up his third win of the season last Friday, throwing six shutout innings and striking out four.
Cardinals: Beltran returns to The K
Outfielder Carlos Beltran faced his former team for the first time last weekend when the Cards hosted the Royals. This weekend will mark his return to Kauffman Stadium, the ballpark he once called home for seven years. Beltran is a career .299 hitter at The K, with 60 home runs, 268 RBIs and 95 stolen bases. Friday will be his 404th career game in Kansas City.
"I just can't wait to go back and look at the stadium," Beltran said last weekend in St. Louis. "I know all those memories are going to come back. That's where my career began, and Kansas City will be in my heart forever."
St. Louis expects to activate first baseman Matt Carpenter (right oblique strain) and Jon Jay (right shoulder sprain) from the 15-day disabled list as early as Friday.
Outfielder Matt Holliday killed the ball last weekend against the Royals, going 6-for-12 in three games. He hit two home runs, scored three times, doubled twice and drove in six runs. In 20 career games, Holliday's hitting .324 with six home runs and 21 RBIs against the Royals.
Royals: Slugging starting pitchers
Kansas City pitchers were no lightweights at the plate during the Royals' tour of National League ballparks this season. The pitching staff has picked up four hits, the most since the DH was incorporated in 1973. Mazzaro leads the way with two hits. Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen also have one hit.
Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur has been held in check by Cardinals pitchers over the course of his career. In 43 career games, Francoeur is hitting just .243 with three home runs and 18 RBIs.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is batting .315 with a pair of home runs and 15 RBIs in 26 career games against Kansas City.