KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- "Let's win state" will not be a high school battle cry this week, but the chant of St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals fans.
The Missouri major league baseball championship will be on the line as the teams meet in a four-game series -- the first two games in Kansas City, the last two in St. Louis.
The most famous series of the state rivalry was the 1985 World Series, with the Royals rallying from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cardinals in seven games as Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen won the decisive game.
"It's a fun series," Royals catcher Drew Butera said. "It's cool to play an intrastate rival, especially in a different league. The fans really get into it. We have great fans. I know they have great fans. They both love the game of baseball, so the stadium is always packed. It's a fun rivalry."
Butera will be catching more with Kansas City placing All-Star catcher Salvador Perez on the disabled list Sunday due to a right intercostal strain.
"This is what we do all the early work stuff for, just in case something like this happens," Butera said. "I never wish an injury on somebody, especially somebody like Sal, but I'll be in there and do the best I can to help the team win. Here we go, strap it on."
Right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-7, 4.60 ERA) will start the first game for the Royals. He is 3-5 with a 7.20 ERA in eight career starts against the Cardinals, though he threw six scoreless innings on Aug. 22, 2015, to beat St. Louis while he was with the San Diego Padres.
Kennedy has a 13-game home winless streak. He is 0-4 with a 4.98 ERA at home in 2017. His last Kauffman Stadium victory came on Aug. 20, 2016.
Kennedy is coming off a poor start in Baltimore on Tuesday, when he yielded four runs on eight hits over four-plus innings in a 7-2 loss to the Orioles.
The Cardinals will counter Monday with right-hander Carlos Martinez, who is 7-9 with a 3.59 ERA.
Martinez has not allowed a run over eight career innings (one start, one relief appearance) against Kansas City, but he is still looking for his first victory over the Royals.
Teams have been getting to Martinez early. He has allowed runs in the first inning in each of his past six appearances. Half of those starts ended after five innings.
Cardinals outfielder Jos Martnez, once the property of the Royals, hit a grand slam Sunday in St. Louis' 13-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. With the win, which followed a 4-1 victory over the Reds the night before, the third-place Cardinals (55-56) inched within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central.
"It felt great, especially with our offense trying to get something going and figure it out,"Martnez said after his first career grand slam. "Today was a good day to build a little more confidence in ourselves. We needed a day like this to give us a read that we can do this."
The Royals (57-53) split a doubleheader with the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, losing 8-7 before winning 9-1. Kansas City trails AL Central-leading Cleveland by 2 1/2 games and holds the second AL wild-card spot, two games behind the New York Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays are a half-game behind the Royals in the wild-card chase.