Around the 5th inning, things started to get a little more quiet in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout and even in the seats at Busch Stadium. An official game of record and Michael Wacha had yet to yield a hit.
“It’s kind of weird, it goes from people talking to me in the dugout to whenever you get that no-hitter through the 5th, 6th guys start avoiding you, thinking they’re going to mess you up,” said Wacha. “It’s not really a big deal. I was just trying to stay focused on going out there and competing and getting some outs.”
After a quick top of the 8th, Wacha had to sit on the bench for nearly 20 minutes as his teammates added to the 1st inning grand slam of Marcell Ozuna by adding one more run to make it 5-0.
“The break didn’t bother me at all,” stated Wacha. “I was just relaxing, thinking about the next inning and what I needed to do.”
At 108 pitches, Wacha got ahead of pinch-hitter Colin Moran 0-2 before he missed with a changeup that was hit into right field to break up the no-hitter. Mike Matheny then headed out to end the day for Wacha, but not before he kept his pitcher on the mound an extra moment.
“It was nice of him, it just a little sign of respect,” said Wacha. “He said just enjoy this moment, it was a heckuva job and just enjoy it. I spent that time talking to Pena and the infielders. A great game being played behind me and helping me get through that outing. Obviously when I was walking off with the standing O, it was pretty special.”
“Man, I’m kind of mad right now,” smiled Francisco Pena, who didn’t let the potential of the no-hitter apply extra pressure on him behind the plate. “We’re just having fun. You’re just having fun. We’re still here–they got a hit and we’re still here. The mentality of the game is trying to get that ‘W’ and I’ll bet you Wacha is the same way. I wish he would’ve had that no-hitter and I know he wishes he would’ve had it as well, but we were trying to win the ballgame is what we were doing right here. We were having fun, though.
“Both of us were having fun. You could see the way we were in sync in calling that game. He was right there with me, he wasn’t shaking as much or shake at all. It was a lot of fun. The fans were awesome. The atmosphere was unreal. I bet he was–I don’t know, man. It was a real nice moment.”
This was the third time in his career that Wacha took a no-hitter into 7.0 or more innings, two of those games coming against Pittsburgh.
“This is right up there with it,” said Wacha. “It was a great day. We ended up getting a win, a series win, and we’ve got a big off-day tomorrow that we can relax, enjoy, and get ready to come back and play on Tuesday.”
photo credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports