Young hurlers shine in season debuts -

Young hurlers shine in season debuts

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) — Wednesday was the first test of 2014 for two young stars, and both showed how ready they were for the challenge. 

Michael Wacha and Tony Cingrani proved they were ready for the bigs in 2013, and both carried the weight of expectation into their first full season. If it was heavy, they certainly didn’t show it. 

Wacha began his 2014 campaign with 6.2 innings of work; striking out seven, walking one and  allowing three hits. He pitched out of a couple jams, including a bases-loaded fourth inning. 

Countering him, the Reds’ Tony Cingrani brought his formidable fastball with him in his season opener. Of the 92 pitches he threw, 77 were four-seamers. He struck out nine in seven innings work, using the movement of his heater to keep Cardinal hitters off kilter. The Redbirds managed only two hits off the young lefty, continuing both their pattern of struggles against southpaws and Cingrani’s dominance with his fastball. 

“We had trouble putting good at bats together. We had trouble picking him up. he’s got a good live fastball, it gets on you pretty quick,” Mike Matheny told reporters after the game. “He didn’t give us a lot of free chances and didn’t make a lot of mistakes behind in the count.”

The Cardinal manager also backed his young star’s variance in pitches as well, noting the command of his off speed offerings. 

“Michael had a good [fastball] too. [He] was using his well and his changeup, he really found the stripe with it and some better breaking balls in some tough counts.”

Wacha showed his variety, mixing 14 curveballs in with 16 changes, eight cutters and 66 fastballs to make for an unpredictable and altogether overwhelming performance. The Reds managed three hits off Wacha, two of which belonged to Votto and one of those was close to being snagged by Matt Holliday in left field. 

The 22-year-old sensation looked in control throughout, picking up where his stellar 2013 postseason left off. 

Cingrani’s performance was equally impressive, and the Cincinnati pen made up for being edged by St. Louis on Monday by holding on for a 1-0 victory. 

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