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October 7, 2013

Playoff Prospectus

NLDS Game 4: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1

by R.J. Anderson


History was five outs away. That's how close Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha was to no-hitting the Pirates in Game 4 of the NL Divisional Series.

That's when Wacha fell behind in the count 3-1 to Pedro Alvarez. Rather than submit and walk Alvarez, thereby bringing the tying run to the plate, Wacha decided to throw a competitive pitch. Earlier in the game Wacha had fallen behind Alvarez 3-0 and thrown a fastball; the pitch caught too much of the plate but Alvarez flied out anyway. This time Wacha and Yadier Molina agreed on a fastball down and away. Wacha failed to execute and the pitch wound up knee-high over the plate; Alvarez didn't get too far underneath the ball this time, and deposited the ball in to the right-center field bleachers.

Alvarez's home run ended the no-hit and shutout bid, but was not enough to keep the Cardinals from victory. In fact, the home run represented the Pirates' lone hit in a game where neither side mustered many baserunners. The Cardinals walked four times and tallied three hits against Pirates starter Charlie Morton, but failed to reach base against Pittsburgh's trio of relievers. The Pirates hitters, for their part, walked three times in addition to the homer. Were it not for a Matt Holliday home run in the sixth inning, Alvarez's shot might have been the story of the game.

But since Holliday crushed a 2-2 Morton offering, Wacha is the story instead. The former first-round pick from Texas A&M relied heavily on his fastball, though he mixed 25 secondary offerings among his 96 pitches. He pounded the zone with each offering, topping 55 percent strikes (excluding balls in play) on all of his pitch types. He was efficient and commanded his pitches well to his glove side, as he played keepaway from a Pirates lineup heavy with right-handed hitters. All told, Wacha fanned nine batters, and though many of his balls in play were lifted, few felt as thoug

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/07)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/07)
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Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/07)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL... (10/07)

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