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Royals pumped for I-70 Series against Cardinals

KANSAS CITY -- Growing up, pitcher Aaron Crow was a Royals fan. Even going to college at the University of Missouri surrounded by Cardinals fans, Crow was a Royals fan. This week he'll be in the middle of the rivalry again as the two teams meet in a home and away series.

"Their fans are really passionate, so that is great for them," Crow said. "Hopefully we can start playing like they have and get the same passion in Kansas City."

This team could use some passion.

The Royals are on a five-game skid, having dropped 16 of their last 20 games and eight straight at home. At this point, they would settle for a win against anyone, but a victory against the Cardinals would mean just a little bit more.

"We need wins and wins give confidence, and that's what we need right now," designated hitter Billy Butler said. "Winning against them would actually mean more because that is a big one. That is a big confidence shift, big momentum for us."

This series is part of the prime rivalries week of Interleague Play beginning on Monday. Each team will host a two-game series and then switch locations on Wednesday. This is the first year with the new format.

The series record tips heavily in favor of the Cardinals, who hold a 42-30 overall lead and a 27-15 lead in Kauffman Stadium. The series is deadlocked at 15 in St. Louis, and the Royals have a 10-8 edge in the new Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won four of the six matchups last season, including all three in Kansas City.

Butler said regardless of what the record is, he looks forward to the series every year.

"Everybody in the state of Missouri is watching," Butler said. "You want to beat each other because you want to be better than the other one, and St. Louis has been better than us for a while now, every year -- they've got two World Series. Beating them is a big deal for us."

As if the rivalry games were not enough, the series starts at 1:10 p.m. CT on Memorial Day. Teams across the nation will honor fallen veterans and benefit today's returning military with a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. and by wearing new camo uniforms. Proceeds from uniform sales will be donated to Welcome Back Veterans, an initiative from MLB Charities and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation which provides grants to university hospitals that provide post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury treatment to veterans. The first 20,000 fans will also receive miniature flags from the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.

"Being a Memorial Day day game, I would imagine there should be a good crowd here," pitcher Luke Hochevar said. "It should be a lot of fun and there are two great pitchers. There is not a whole lot more you could ask for than a win for us."

The first game of the series will highlight a top-notch pitching battle between James Shields and Adam Wainwright. Since joining the Royals in the offseason, Shields is 2-5 with a 2.47 ERA.

"It's two really good pitchers going at it, and hopefully we can get Shields some runs. We haven't exactly been doing that too much, so we know we have our hands full," right fielder Jeff Francoeur said.

The Royals were shut out on Saturday by the Angels and continue to struggle to produce on offense. In the five-game losing streak, they've been outscored 25-9.

"We understand we are not in the easy stretch of schedule by any means, but we've got to go out there and win games," Butler said. "We are playing a good team, but being that they are two Missouri teams, two big rivals, that gives you a lot of momentum beating your rival."

Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for

Kansas City Royals, Billy Butler, Aaron Crow, Jeff Francoeur