Dealing with Cards

The interleague fun continues tonight with the Cardinals coming to Baltimore for the first time.

Before last night, the Cardinals ranked second in the majors with a .269 average and fifth in runs scored with 369.

Tonight marks the return of Joe Strauss to Camden Yards. We were on the beat together at The Sun starting in 1997 - the wire-to-wire season - before he left for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He's one of the best reporters in the country. Too bad more of his talent didn't rub off on me.

I did learn to see the glass as half-empty. Thanks for that, Joe.

Kyle Lohse starts for the Cardinals. He's 7-4 with a 2.91 ERA, 19 walks and 56 strikeouts in 105 innings.

Lohse is 2-1 with a 4.39 ERA in five career games against the Orioles. Derrek Lee is 9-for-23 with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs against him. Vladimir Guerrero is 3-for-10 with two doubles, one homer and six RBIs. J.J. Hardy is 3-for-9 with two doubles.

Will Blake Davis make his fourth start in the last five games?

Hardy will bat leadoff again. That's a safe bet.

Hardy is hitting .347 atop the order, with seven doubles, six homers, 12 RBIs, 13 runs scored and a 1.094 OPS.

Assuming that Brian Roberts comes off the disabled list after the All-Star break, manager Buck Showalter will have to decide whether his second baseman is also his first hitter. Also a safe bet. I can't imagine that Showalter would lower Roberts in the order, but it's worth debating.

Did you know that Roberts has batted in all nine spots in the order during his career? Well, he doesn't have an official at-bat as the cleanup hitter, but he scored a run in his one game.

He's appeared in 1,103 games as the leadoff hitter (.284), 80 as the No. 2 hitter (.244), five as the No. 3 hitter, one as the cleanup hitter, three as the No. 5 hitter, four as the No. 6 hitter, eight as the No. 7 hitter, 12 as the No. 8 hitter and 17 as the No. 9 hitter.

Would you keep Hardy in the leadoff spot and lower Roberts, who could get more RBI opportunities? Would you bat Roberts in his customary spot and return Hardy to ninth? Or maybe bat Roberts first and Hardy second, with Nick Markakis moving down?

Down on the farm, Oliver Drake (Navy) threw a three-hit shutout last night for Single-A Frederick. He walked one and struck out six while improving to 6-3 with a 2.48 ERA.

We should never underestimate the challenge of going from low Single-A to high Single-A. Manny Machado went 0-for-3 last night and is batting .133 in five games with the Keys after hitting .276 at Delmarva. Jonathan Schoop is batting .260 with no homers in 18 games with Frederick after hitting .316 with eight homers at Delmarva. Kipp Schutz is hitting .233 with the Keys after batting .381 at Delmarva.

Brandon Waring hit his 10th home run for Double-A Bowie last night.

Shameless plug alert: I'll be part of "The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" crew from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on MASN before heading over to Camden Yards.

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