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Cards, Cubs renew rivalry to open second half

MLB.com @DeeshaThosar

The second half opens with a renewed rivalry as the Cardinals face the Cubs on Thursday night at Wrigley Field, with first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (6-8, 3.92 ERA) opens the five-game series for the first-place Cubs. The 28-year-old has struck out 83 batters and has a 1.20 WHIP in 19 starts this season. Chicago enters Thursday riding a three-game sweep of the Padres heading into the All-Star break.

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The second half opens with a renewed rivalry as the Cardinals face the Cubs on Thursday night at Wrigley Field, with first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (6-8, 3.92 ERA) opens the five-game series for the first-place Cubs. The 28-year-old has struck out 83 batters and has a 1.20 WHIP in 19 starts this season. Chicago enters Thursday riding a three-game sweep of the Padres heading into the All-Star break.

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The Cards counter with righty Carlos Martinez (6-5, 3.08 ERA), who looks to get back on track after allowing three runs on six hits over five innings in a loss to the Reds in his last start. However, Martinez has won three of his past four starts, posting a 2.63 ERA with 22 strikeouts in that span.

Catcher Willson Contreras and second baseman Javier Baez return to the diamond after making their first All-Star Game appearance. Contreras hammered the National League's first run in his first All-Star at-bat with a solo shot to left in an 8-6 loss to the American League. Baez swung at Red Sox ace Chris Sale's first pitch, roping one into center field.

"Hitting that ball was something special for me and my family -- they're here -- and for the fans," Contreras said. "I'd do anything for the fans, and this was for the fans in Chicago."

St. Louis begins the second half aiming to hit the reset button while remaining committed to playing for a postseason berth. On Saturday, Mike Shildt moved from the Cards' bench coach to become their new skipper following a midseason replacement of Mike Matheny, who managed St. Louis since 2012. Shildt won his first game as a manager in a 6-4 victory over the Reds at Busch Stadium.

"He was so good at the lower levels," Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently recalled. "I think he would be defined as a true teacher. To me, I always think that's so important at those kind of teams. He's always been able to change his message, to adapt his message to the students or, in this case, players. The one thing I've always admired about him is his ability to adapt."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.