ST. LOUIS – Miles Mikolas takes the mound for a rather historic home opener compared to others in St. Louis Cardinals history.

Thursday marks the first time the Cardinals will host an interleague opponent to open a new season. The Toronto Blue Jays flock to St. Louis for a battle of the birds.

Mikolas will make his second Opening Day start, though his first since 2019 and first at Busch Stadium. Now one of the longest-tenured Cardinals pitchers, he gets to embrace the Opening Day festivities and set an early tone for the season.

“I think this is one of the most special and magical Opening Days in the league,” said Mikolas. “The way they do it is great. The fans show up, and it’s going to be great weather here. I think it’s going to be a special day overall. I’m honored and humbled to get that experience.”

Add in the Opening Day start, Mikolas has had an eventful past few outings. Last Friday, he pitched seven innings of one-run ball after earning a contract extension. Before that, he tossed four innings in relief for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic semifinals victory after his close Cardinals teammate Adam Wainwright.

The 34-year-old will have his work cut out for him against the Blue Jays, who return mainly the same lineup from last year that placed among the Top 5 in baseball for runs scored (4.78 per game) and OPS (.760) while leading the MLB in hits (1464 total or roughly 9 per game).

Mikolas only has one career start against the Blue Jays. That came in mid-May last year, and he limited the damage to three runs over 6.2 innings pitched.

“I’ll do my homework, we’ll have a game plan going forward, and we’ll do our best to counteract their bats,” said Mikolas.

The fairly young Blue Jays core, coming off its second Wild Card postseason appearance in three years, are powered by several second-generation MLB players. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are all preparing for their fifth season in Toronto.

All three of their fathers starred in the 1990s and early 2000s, while Gurrerro and Biggio’s fathers (Vladimir Sr. and Craig) also played a small handful of games at Busch Stadium III.

“My expectation is to go out there and win [on Opening Day],” said Guerrero Jr. via his translator. “We’re going to go out there, going to have fun and doing all the things we need to do to win.”

Looking past the result, several Blue Jays say starting the season in St. Louis will be a unique experience.

“I’m super excited to be in St. Louis for Opening Day,” said Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman. “They have an amazing history of baseball. I’m excited to see the Clydesdales. I feel like it’s awesome, and it’s going to be a great atmosphere here.”

The Cardinals begin their 2023 season Thursday at Busch Stadium with the home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. First pitch for the new season is set for 3:10 p.m.