The Cardinals-Kansas City Royals interleague, intrastate rivalry is a study in contrasts, not the least of which is among the fans.
Cardinals fans don't care if Kansas City comes to Busch Stadium or not -- the Royals rarely bring many fans with them. But, to the Royals, the once-a-year appearance of the Cardinals is a big deal. Kauffman Stadium will be close to sold out this weekend, with some 10,000 Cardinals fans per game helping to swell the attendance.
For the second year in succession, the Cardinals and Kansas City will play just one series, which is the way the Cardinals like it anyway.
LHP Mark Mulder, who pitched his entire career in the American League, has always enjoyed pitching at Kauffman. The former Oakland star, who will work Friday night's series opener, has never lost in three decisions in Kansas City and is 8-1 in his career against the Royals.
1B Albert Pujols, who went to high school and junior college in the Kansas City area, always enjoys his return to his teenage home. In 51 career at-bats at Kauffman, Pujols has batted a robust .412 with four homers.
With the designated hitter rule in use, the Cardinals could use Pujols there and give him a rest from fielding, duties but Pujols generally likes to be in the field for these games.
--One Cardinal reached 1,500. Another reached 1. But neither milestone meant much Tuesday because RHP Jeff Suppan was terrible for the second time in a row against the Philadelphia Phillies.
But Suppan, who gave up six runs in four innings the first time he faced the Phillies, allowed seven runs in three innings Tuesday in a 7-5 loss. Suppan (3-4) lost for just the third time on the road in two seasons as a Cardinal.
The Cardinals, after building a season-high six-game lead, had it cut to five Tuesday, and got it back to six on Thursday.
--LHP Gabe White made his Cardinals debut and threw two scoreless innings Tuesday. The bullpen was brilliant, allowing just two hits in five innings. LHP Randy Flores worked two scoreless frames and Al Reyes had one.
--3B Scott Seabol got his first big league start Tuesday and went 0-for-4.
--1B Albert Pujols, who had been 3-for-17, had three hits in five at-bats Tuesday.
--CF Jim Edmonds was back in the lineup Tuesday after coming out early on Sunday because of a muscle tendon strain in his left foot.
--RHP Cal Eldred is going through conditioning drills again after experiencing an illness that affected the lining around his heart. Eldred isn't expected to be able to pitch until midsummer.
--3B Scott Rolen is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a minor tear in the labrum in his sprained left shoulder.
Rolen was injured in a first-base collision with the Dodgers' Hee-Seop Choi on Tuesday in St. Louis.
"This will probably hasten his recovery," said trainer Barry Weinberg of the surgery. "It probably would have been longer had the procedure not been done. We identified the problem and made a plan. But I'm sure (Rolen) is going to be more anxious (than four to six weeks)."
General manager Walt Jocketty concurred with Weinberg, saying, "By having the arthroscopy, there's a better chance he'll come back sooner than if he hadn't had it. We could have waited 10 days to see how he felt, but we decided to have the surgery."
A six-week absence would take the perennial Gold Glover and All-Star nearly to July 1. Jocketty, asked if he remains satisfied with the personnel in place to cover Rolen's absence, said, "For the time being. But (John) Mabry's done a terrific job. (Abraham) Nunez has been a nice addition, and (Scott) Seabol was playing great at Memphis."
Rolen was hitting .257 with five homers and 20 RBIs.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals' ever-changing cast of characters in their bullpen drama added a new player, left-hander Gabe White, and regained another, right-hander Jason Isringhausen, who came off the disabled list. Isringhausen gained his eighth save on Saturday, the day he was activated after recovering from a strained abdominal muscle in his right side. Isringhausen then wrapped up his ninth save in nine opportunities the next day with another scoreless inning.
White, who had been unscored on in eight outings at Triple-A Memphis after having been let go this spring by Atlanta, is no stranger to the big leagues. The 33-year-old has been with four previous big-league clubs, including Cincinnati three times and the New York Yankees twice.
With the addition of White and the assignment of right-hander Kevin Jarvis to Memphis, the Cardinals' bullpen again has three left-handers to go with four right-handers, even though manager Tony La Russa had suggested recently he preferred a 5-2 configuration.
"You've got to go with the guys who have done the best," La Russa said. "White has been throwing well. I don't want to run (Ray) King and (Randy) Flores (both left-handers) into the ground."
--LF Reggie Sanders hit his 10th homer Sunday, giving him 10 in just 105 at-bats. Sanders had 22 homers in 446 at-bats last year.
--1B Albert Pujols didn't start Sunday for the first time this season. Pujols pinch-hit and struck out for John Mabry in the ninth inning. Pujols is the only Cardinal to appear in each of the first 37 games.
--1B John Mabry, starting in place of Albert Pujols on Sunday, drove in three of the Cardinals' four runs.
--RHP Matt Morris won his third straight decision Sunday in a 4-2 win over New York. He is coming off shoulder surgery in December.
RHP Jason Isringhausen said, "The old Matt Morris threw harder. But that's it. He didn't have that cutter or slider that he has now."
1B John Mabry, who has played with Morris on three different occasions with the Cardinals, said, "I don't think people realize how hurt he was last year. But I think what happened to him, too, is he learned how to pitch while he was hurting, and that makes him even more dangerous now."
BY THE NUMBERS: 11 -- The Cardinals' win Sunday put them 11 games over .500 for the first time this season. The next goal, according to manager Tony La Russa, is 15 over. "Baby steps," La Russa said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't want to go to dinner with the family tonight after going four innings and giving up like 30 runs. It's always nice to have them hold their heads high when they walk out of here." -- Cardinals RHP Matt Morris, on pitching in front of family and friends in New York. Morris earned a 4-2 win.
3B Scott Rolen, sprained left shoulder, 15-day DL.
RHP Cal Eldred, viral infection, 15-day DL.