The St. Louis Cardinals are more familiar than most with the Baltimore Orioles' best hitter in 2011, but few expected that NL Central castoff to be J.J. Hardy, formerly of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, and not ex-Cub Derrek Lee. The Orioles' veteran additions have thrived at Camden Yards, where the Cardinals and Kyle Lohse are scheduled meet rookie Zach Britton on Tuesday.
The Orioles' other young starters have given them more trouble, but the Cardinals won't be looking past Brian Matusz, until recently one of the top prospects in Major League Baseball, who has a 6.85 ERA in five 2011 starts. The Cardinals will close out the series with two more veterans, as Chris Carpenter—coming off one of his best starts of the season—and the still-struggling Jake Westbrook will start Wednesday and Thursday's outings.
The Cardinals' infield will be reinforced prior to Tuesday's opener with the return of third basemen David Freese and Nick Punto from the disabled list. Punto replaces overmatched first-rounder Pete Kozma as the utility infielder; Freese will start at third base, though given his injury-prone nature he's a fair bet to spend time at designated hitter after replacing outfielder/first baseman Andrew Brown on the roster.