VIDEO: St. Louis Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha comes within inches of no-hitter
The St. Louis Cardinals might be peaking at just the right time. As evidence, look no further than 22-year-old rookie RHP Michael Wacha, who came within inches of fielding a ground ball that would have clinched the third no-hitter of the 2013 season in only his 9th major league start. Watch as a chopper by Washington Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman finds a comfortable spot behind the mound (via MLB.com):
Wacha retired Steve Lombardozzi and Denard Span to start the 9th before Zimmerman ruined the Cardinals fans hopes with the chopper tipping off the glove of Wacha. By the time it reached SS Pete Kozma’s bare hand, the hurried throw pulled 1B Matt Adams off the bag. Wacha was lifted at that point by manager after 112 pitches for Trevor Rosenthal, who earned a save by retiring potential tying run Jayson Werth on a grounder to first base. The win helps protect the Cardinals 2-game lead in the National League Central, as time runs out on those chasing them.
The last no-hitter by a rookie pitcher was Clay Buchholz in 2007. It would have been the first Cardinals no-hitter since Bud Smith in 2001.
Drafted just over a year ago, Wacha is another example of how the St. Louis Cardinals franchise is able to rebuild from within, strategically letting free agents like Albert Pujols go while staying in contention (currently within a game of the best record in the National League, second straight year in the post-season without Pujols Angels not making it yet). There’s an irony here, Wacha was a compensatory pick for the loss of Albert Pujols to free agency.
Out of Texas A&M, Michael Wacha was the Red Birds first round (19th overall) pick in the 2012, and the first pick of the draft to make an impact in the majors. With this win, Wacha moves to 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA and is looking like a future arm for years to come and a potential key weapon for the postseason run.
– David Whitlock