A day after finding out that their superstar slugger will miss an estimated six weeks with a fractured left wrist, the Cardinals host the first-place Philadelphia Phillies in the opener of a three-game series Tuesday night.
Pujols was hurt Sunday when Kansas City's Wilson Betemit ran into his glove hand during a play at first base in St. Louis' 5-4 victory. The three-time NL MVP, who has 17 home runs and 45 RBIs and was starting to heat up after a slow start, could be replaced in the field by Lance Berkman, a frequent first baseman who has thrived offensively despite being signed to play right field this season.
"You can't replace a player of his magnitude,'' general manager John Mozeliak said of Pujols, who can become a free agent after the season. "It just seems like we've had to deal with one injury after another.
"We still have to find ways to win games, and that's what we'll do.''
Pujols is only the latest Cardinals star to miss time due to injury, joining ace Adam Wainwright and cleanup hitter Matt Holliday. St. Louis (40-33) leads the NL Central by one-half game despite using the disabled list 14 times for 12 players this season, and it's won two in a row since a season-high seven-game losing streak.
The team recalled first baseman-outfielder Mark Hamilton from Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday to take Pujols' roster spot. Hamilton has batted .115 with one RBI in 26 at-bats with St. Louis this season.
The Phillies (45-28) won't miss seeing Pujols despite the fact that he has batted only .270 in his career against them. That's probably also the case for Roy Halladay, even though Pujols is 0 for 7 versus the right-hander.
Halladay (9-3, 2.56 ERA), who can take over the major league lead in victories Tuesday, has gone 4-0 with a 3.14 ERA in his last six starts - all won by the Phillies. He wasn't dominant Wednesday, allowing four runs in seven innings against Florida, but Philadelphia rallied to win 5-4 in 10 innings.
Halladay's history against the Cardinals indicates he could regain his overpowering form Tuesday. He's faced St. Louis twice and allowed two earned runs in 16 innings, most recently pitching seven innings and giving up one earned run in a 7-2 home victory May 6 last season.
"I think guys would be lying if they said, 'I want to face him,'" St. Louis shortstop Ryan Theriot told the team's official website about Halladay. "It's a good challenge, but it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he decided not to pitch that day."
Halladay, who has never pitched at St. Louis, will try to help the Phillies end their struggles at Busch Stadium. They have dropped five of six there including a two-game sweep May 16-17, and have scored one run in each of their last four defeats in St. Louis.
Philadelphia has won eight of 10 overall, but doesn't come into this series hot at the plate, having totaled seven runs while dropping two of three at Seattle over the weekend. The Phillies lost Sunday's finale 2-0, managing three hits while getting blanked by Jason Vargas.
First baseman Ryan Howard had two of those for his second straight two-hit day, and could be primed for a big series. The St. Louis native is hitting .365 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in his career at Busch, and he's batted .360 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs in 40 total career games against the Cardinals.
Howard's only hit in two at-bats against Kyle McClellan (6-3, 3.96) was a home run, and he'll look to add some more against the right-hander, who came off the DL on Wednesday and gave up five runs - three earned - in five innings of a 10-0 loss to Washington. McClellan, who has never started against the Phillies, has allowed 10 homers in 72 2-3 innings this season.