One day late, Joe Kelly will be celebrating his birthday in style -- by making his Major League debut for the Cardinals on Sunday in their rubber match against Cleveland.

At 24 years old (and one day), the righty Kelly will be filling in for the injured Jaime Garcia, making him the first Cardinal to make his debut in a start since Lance Lynn did so on June 2, 2011.

"He's been throwing the ball well," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I've had great reports from [Triple-A pitching coach] Blaise Ilsley and [Triple-A manager] Pop Warner both about how he's been throwing. He's looked good."

Opposing Kelly is Ubaldo Jimenez, the imposing right-hander who has struggled this season. His ERA sits at 5.31, but he says he's starting to see improvement.

"I think I'm getting better and better," Jimenez said. "I know I had a couple of really bad starts but I've been working on my mechanics. That's the only thing I can take out of my last game."

Jimenez rebounded from a rough outing two starts ago by allowing only one run on five hits over 6 2/3 innings in a big win against the Tigers on Tuesday.

Jimenez is somewhat familiar with the Cardinals after spending the first five and a half years of his career in the National League with the Rockies. In seven starts against St. Louis, Jimenez is 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA.

"I know what they're capable of doing," Jimenez said. "That's a tough lineup and you have to find a way to make your pitches and get outs."

Getting outs is exactly what Kelly did in his 12 starts with Triple-A Memphis. Kelly's 2.86 ERA was the second best in the Pacific Coast League.

In his last start, Kelly tossed a career high eight innings, allowing a run on seven hits, while walking none.

"He's got good stuff," Matheny said. "There's no question about it. He's matured as a pitcher and as a person, too. It's part of the package."

Indians: Kipnis fights through knee soreness
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was in the lineup Saturday despite fouling a ball off his knee in the first inning of Friday's game. Kipnis experienced some soreness, but not enough to keep him from playing.

"He's tough," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's not gonna let everybody know how banged up he is because he loves to play."

Kipnis finished the game on Friday, going 2-for-5, but he was held hitless in four at-bats on Saturday. He is hitting .277 this season.

• Cleveland leads the Majors in walks with 221 this season.

• The Indians have been in second place in the A.L. Central -- behind the White Sox -- for 12 straight days.

Cardinals: Holliday day-to-day
• Matt Holliday was scratched from the Cardinals' lineup Saturday with what the team called "mid-back spasms." His status for Sunday's game is uncertain.

The Cardinals' left fielder had appeared in 58 of the team's 59 games this season before sitting on Saturday. Holliday is hitting .276 with 10 home runs, 35 RBIs and 38 runs scored.

• Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig had his six-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, but he is hitting .361 in 83 at-bats this season.

• The Cardinals have outscored their opposition this season by a total of 58 runs, the most in the National League and the second most in baseball, behind only the Texas Rangers.

Worth noting
• The Indians have won each of their six series against the Cardinals, making them the only team in baseball that St. Louis has never defeated in a series. The Cards could snap that streak with a win on Sunday.

• Among the six Cardinals who have at least five at-bats against Jimenez, only Allen Craig (three hits in six at-bats) is hitting above .300.

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