Cards' 2013 schedule marks first battle vs. Pujols

Cards' 2013 schedule marks first battle vs. Pujols

SAN DIEGO -- Barring a meeting this October, the Cardinals will face Albert Pujols for the first time since the first baseman's divisive departure next June in Anaheim. The three-game series between the Cards and Angels highlights St. Louis' 2013 schedule, which was released by Major League Baseball on Wednesday.

For the second straight year, the Cardinals will begin the 162-game season on the road. The Cardinals will play their season opener in Arizona on April 1. That three-game series will be followed by a three-game stop in San Francisco before the Cardinals return to St. Louis for their April 8 home opener.

Coming to town during that first homestand will be the Reds (April 8-10) and the Brewers (April 12-14). Those six games will be followed by one of two 10-game road trips the Cardinals have on their schedule. The first (April 15-24) will take St. Louis through Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

The second comes after the All-Star break, when St. Louis stops in Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati from July 26 - Aug. 4.

The Cardinals will play series against all five American League West teams next season, including the Houston Astros, who are switching leagues after this season. Houston and St. Louis will play four games against each other in 2013. Two of those (June 25-26) will be at Minute Maid Park; Busch Stadium will host the other two on July 9-10.

Also making trips to Busch Stadium next year will be the Rangers (June 21-23) and the Mariners (Sept. 13-15). This will mark the Rangers' first ever regular-season visit to St. Louis. The two clubs did, of course, face each other at Busch Stadium four times during the 2011 World Series. The Cardinals won three of those games, including Games 6 and 7.

The Cardinals' July 2-4 visit to Anaheim will be the organization's first road series against the Angels since the inception of Interleague Play. The series will draw national attention, too, as it will pit Pujols against the team he chose to leave during a contested free agency period last fall.

That three-game series will be preceded by the Cardinals' trip to Oakland from June 28-30.

Under MLB's new scheduling format, the Cardinals will play each of the other four National League Central teams 19 times during the year. The Cubs will make two weekend visits (Aug. 9-11 and Sept. 27-29) to Busch Stadium, as well as come for a weekday four-game series from June 17-20.

Though the Cardinals will have to make four three-city trips next year, the club should benefit from a home-heavy schedule late in the season. Fifteen of the Cardinals' final 22 games in 2013 will be played in St. Louis. The regular season is set to end on Sept. 29.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.