Things don't get any easier back at home

Are the Orioles prepared to go blow for blow with two of the top offensive teams in the National League?

Friday the Birds welcome the Cincinnati Reds to the Yard for a three-game set. After that, the St. Louis Cardinals come to town. It marks the first time both clubs visit Camden Yards in their histories.

Talk about wave on wave. The Reds and Cardinals bring some serious pop. Take a look at their National League offensive rankings.

The Cardinals are first in batting average, RBIs, walks and on-base percentage. They are third in doubles.

The Reds are second in the NL in RBIs and on-base percentage. They rank third in batting average and walks and fourth in home runs.

With those types of numbers - despite the O's recent offensive surge - the Birds' game plan can't be to get into a shooting match. The Birds' pitchers are going to have to step up.

The Orioles' starters posted a 5.71 ERA against the fourth-place Pirates this week; a team with a .240 team batting average. That isn't going to cut it against Reds sluggers Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, as well as Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman of the Cardinals.

The good news for the Orioles is Albert Pujols is injured and won't play in the series. The bad news for Baltimore fans hoping to see one of the greatest hitters of our time is - Pujols is injured.

A few things are working for the O's coming into the homestand. Their offense came alive on the recent road trip batting .302 as a team and scoring 4.22 runs per game. Also, Buck Showalter will welcome back his designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, who hasn't started in the National League ballparks in six consecutive games.

Working against the Orioles is the fact that their starting staff is banged up. Jeremy Guthrie experienced back spasms in his second to last start, but seemed to be OK in his last start. Brian Matusz left his last start with leg cramps, and Jake Arrieta has inflammation in his throwing elbow. All three aren't expected to miss any starts, but you hope the injuries don't have lingering effects.

It will be nice for the Birds to be back home at the Yard where they are two games above .500.