Michael Wacha pitched a gem today against the Pirates. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
Toss 22-year-old Michael Wacha onto a pitcher's mound where he has to keep the Cardinals' season from ending. Add 40,000 screaming fans who want nothing more but to see him fail, and tauntingly sing his name from the first pitch.
"I kind of like it," Wacha said. "It kind of gives me adrenaline. I kind of use it in my favor."
St. Louis' starter retired the first 15 Pirates hitters he faced, six via strikeouts. He took a perfect game bid into the 6th inning and a no-hit bid into the 8th, the first rookie pitcher to ever do so in the postseason. And oh yeah, he kept the Cards alive for an NLDS-deciding Game 5 at Busch Stadium.
"I don't know if you can put a kid in a tougher spot," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "The place was loud. My ears are still ringing. The kid stayed the course."
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James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person.