Separated only by an intermission against the visiting Baltimore Orioles, the Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are playing what effectively is a playoff series without the bunting and October trimmings, but it comes complete with repeat appearances by starters.
In the span of 11 days, the Cardinals and the defending NL West champs will play seven games: four by the Bay, three this weekend in St. Louis.
The series is currently tied at two games each.
True to the playoff-series feel of the schedule, several pitchers will also appear for a second time in a short span against the same opponent. That will be a first for Jordan Hicks as he continues his transition from closer and reliever to starter and rotation. In each of his past two starts, Hicks has increased his pitch count and his innings from the previous one, and on Friday night at Busch Stadium the Cardinals are hopeful he can at least repeat what he did against the Giants a week ago at Oracle Park.
In a game that Cardinals won, Hicks allowed two runs on three hits and struck out five in his 4 1/3 innings.
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That’s his career high for innings pitched.
At times, he had the Giants unnerved with his mix of 100-mph sinker and a changeup that he could land at 91 mph or 92 mph. In that game, he was able to operate at…