(BaseballStL) -- Whether it’s a bad shot in basketball or dealing with a break-up, the most important part will be the rebound.
That can also go for Michael Wacha.
Not that Wacha is dealing with a recent break-up, ladies, rather Thursday’s relief appearance meant redemption for the starter-turned-reliever after getting shellacked in his previous outing. He allowed three runs on four hits in one inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday, but a late Cardinals rally gave the rookie pitcher career win No. 2.
Working as a reliever, Wacha didn’t need to wait five days for his next chance. It would be only three days for his next chance.
“This is one perk of being a reliever, you don’t have to wait five days until your next start,” Wacha said. “It was good to get back out there. That last outing left a pretty sore taste in my mouth.”
Wacha entered the eighth inning on Thursday with a 6-2 lead over the visiting Atlanta Braves, a team with 39 comeback wins this season.
He allowed a one-out single to All-Star catcher Brian McCann, who would advance to second base on a wild pitch in the next at-bat. Wacha then struck out Evan Gattis to stretch his hitless skid to 16 at-bats before getting Andrelton Simmons to ground out to end the eighth. He threw seven of 15 pitches for strikes on Thursday; he needed 30 pitches to get out one inning of work on Monday.
“I was just trying to attack the hitters today,” Wacha said. “Luckily today they were just hitting them right at our guys. Those guys were making good plays behind me and got me out of the inning pretty quick.”
Speaking of quick, Wacha said he slowed down his pace from Monday’s outing.
“I needed to take a little breather,” Wacha said. “Tonight I was trying to slow everything down and really just focus on that pitch one at a time.”
Although he hasn’t pitched on back-to-back days, manager Mike Matheny said his 22-year-old reliever has bounced back quickly on days after throwing. His fast recovery might soon lead to the young right-hander pitching on consecutive days.
“I’ve been real impressed with how quick he rebounds and every day he’s thrown, he comes back and he’s promising us he’s being honest,” Matheny said. “He says he feels real good. We haven’t done the back-to-back thing yet, but it’s nice to know on that next day, even when he’s thrown quite a few pitches, he’s still rebounding really quick. That’s a great sign about him handling this role going forward.”
Thursday might have been the perfect time to get Wacha back in action after Monday’s mess. A late four-run lead against the NL East-leading Braves isn’t a cakewalk by any means.
“We were excited to get him back in there,” Matheny said. “We weren’t afraid to put him in a big situation either. If that’s a one-run game you probably don’t see him pitching right there as well. We got a lot of faith in him. We like doing that with the young pitchers, especially someone as talented as Michael. We want him to know the success he’s had here and all the way up through is something that should continue and we trust him. It was a good day for him.”
Next step: pitching on back-to-back days.