Michael Wacha is 22 years old. When I was 22, I was wrapping up the college degree that would lead me to a prestigious life as a part-time baseball blogger. Wacha is busy becoming a postseason legend. In his first playoff start, he nearly threw a no-hitter. In his second playoff start, he out-dueled Cy Young probable Clayton Kershaw. I'd say he and I are about tied, for now.
Wacha and four relievers teamed up to shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the 2013 NLCS. There was not a whole lot of offense in this game, but that's nothing unusual when Clayton Kershaw takes the mound:
Kershaw was good, allowing only an unearned run on two hits in six innings of work.
Wacha was better:
The rookie went 6⅔ scoreless innings, striking out eight batters and allowing only five hits. He did get into a spot of trouble in the 6th; Kershaw singled to lead off the inning, and second baseman Matt Carpenter tried to make a Web Gem on Carl Crawford's grounder to force out Kershaw at second:
After retiring Mark Ellis, Wacha intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez -- it was the only free pass that he allowed all day, and he did it on purpose. Yasiel Puig came up to the plate with a chance to tie the game, but Wacha had other plans:
When someone talks about making a hitter look foolish, this is what they are alluding to. Wacha then struck out Juan Uribe to end the inning, and struck out a couple more hitters on the way back to the dugout just for fun.
Nick Punto managed to get as far as third base in the seventh inning, but he was stranded there when Michael Young flew out to end the inning. At the moment, Young is a front-runner for NLCS MVP, from the Cardinals' perspective.
The St. Louis bullpen locked things down the rest of the way by retiring all six batters in the eighth and ninth innings -- five of those six batters struck out. New closer Trevor Rosenthal sunk the final nail in the coffin by inducing this whiff from pinch-hitter Andre Ethier:
The series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Monday. Adam Wainwright is scheduled to face Hyun-Jin Ryu at 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS.