Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Cards' Wacha 'real excited' for Game 2 start
By Kyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- The list of accomplishments for St. Louis Cardinals starter Michael Wacha continues to grow each time he takes the mound.
A near no-hitter in his last start of the regular season against the Washington Nationals. Three wins in his first three postseason starts, two coming against NL Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw. The first NLCS MVP won by a rookie since Livan Hernandez in 1997. Even a milkshake named after him at a restaurant in St. Louis, appropriately termed "The Wacha Wacha."
So where would his World Series Game 2 start rank among these achievements?
"No. 1, the highest, biggest, most important game that I've ever pitched in," Wacha said. "I'll try to approach it just like any other start, but [I'm] just real excited about it."
Still just 22 years old and 12 starts into his major league career, Wacha will take the mound against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night at Fenway Park. Through his three postseason starts, the right-hander has seemed unfazed, allowing only one run and eight hits in 21 innings pitched and taking over the second spot in the rotation behind veteran ace Adam Wainwright.
"I'm trying not to get too caught up in the moment," Wacha said. "I'm sure after the season I'll be able to look back and think, 'Hey, I pitched in the World Series,' and that kind of stuff."
"Pretty excited to be pitching here in Fenway as well," he added.
Even if the moment gets to him, Wacha could be forgiven. Selected in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft, Wacha had just one year in the minor leagues before getting the call to join St. Louis in May to make his debut against the Kansas City Royals. Despite a rotation that featured several rookies finding success this season, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has been particularly impressed with how quickly Wacha has been able to perform at a high level.
"I think everybody is surprised when a young player doesn't go the typical route," Matheny said. "Once we had him here, we put him in big positions and he made pitches. It was pretty obvious [he was ready] at that point."
Thursday will mark the biggest position Wacha has been put in in his career, facing an unfamiliar team at an unfamiliar venue in front of what's guaranteed to be a sellout crowd of Boston fans waiting for the chance to get under the young pitcher's skin. However, as his list dictates, there's nothing Wacha wants more than the chance to pitch his team to a Game 2 victory.
"I want the ball in big situations," he said, "and there's none bigger than the World Series."