Wacha hopes to block out Fenways distractions - KMOV.com

Wacha hopes to block out Fenways distractions

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By Scott Bierman By Scott Bierman

(BaseballStL) -- It’s only 310 feet to the left field wall. That wall, better known as ‘The Green Monster,’ stands 37 feet tall. Then there’s the right field wall. That stands between three and five feet tall and is 302 to 380 feet away. Not to mention the deepest part of Fenway Park is 420 feet away from home plate.

A lot of quirky dimensions that vary by a unique number of feet everywhere inside the classic ballpark from 1912.

Those numbers and dimensions are exactly what Michael Wacha hopes to block out when he takes the mound for the biggest game of his young career Thursday.

“You try not to think too much about it, just try to approach it just like any other game, any other stadium,” Wacha said before Game 1 on Wednesday. “And that's just making pitches down in the zone and try not to give them too much of a chance to lift it.”

Fenway Park isn’t a stranger to Wacha. Pitching inside it is what will be different.

The 22-year-old rookie was part of Team USA during his sophomore year at Texas A&M. He never pitched. He just sat in the bullpen.

His next time at Fenway with a uniform on will be as a starter in Game 2 of the World Series against the Red Sox.

“Mike (Matheny) told me just the other day that I was going to get Game 2,” Wacha said. “But I'm pretty excited about it. Pretty excited about pitching here in Fenway, as well. I mean this lineup that Boston has, it's a good lineup, a lot of power, a lot of speed.”

As no surprise, it’ll be the first time Wacha, who debuted in May, has faced the Red Sox.

It’s a task he’s more than shown that he’s ready for after not allowing a run in 13 2/3 innings against the Dodgers in the NLCS. It was a performance which earned him NLCS MVP.

How are you feeling about the World Series the day after Game 1? Share your thoughts.

And a performance that followed other strong outings. Since rejoining the Cardinals rotation in Sepetember, Wacha posted a 1.72 ERA in his final five regular season starts, including a rough outing against the Rockies on September 19.

Including the NLDS against the Pirates, Wacha has allowed only one run over 21 innings this postseason. It’s been a fast track of success for the rookie, who became the quickest draftee to appear in the majors with the club since Cris Carpenter in 1988.

“I think everybody is surprised when a young player doesn't go the typical route,” Matheny said. “What we first noticed was in spring training, the stuff was pretty obvious. The makeup, it kind of takes some time to watch. And when you put him in situations with the other players, and just see how they respond, and he went about it perfectly.”

Matheny said the club wanted to see how Wacha adjusted to facing hitters for a second time at the Triple-A level before he made a jump to the majors.

He’s already excelled at it at baseball’s highest level.

During the NLCS against the Dodgers, Wacha allowed five hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 1-0 Game 2 win. Six days later, he gave up only two hits over seven scoreless innings in a 9-0 Game 6 World Series-clinching win.

It wasn’t the first time Wacha crippled an opposition’s offense the second time around.

On August 28 against the Reds, Wacha pitched four scoreless innings in relief and allowed three hits and one walk. Six days later, he made a start against the Reds and pitched six scoreless innings and allowed three hits.

“The first time you're going through them, seeing them, you kind of see what their weaknesses are maybe just a little bit, and you try to attack those a little bit more,” Wacha said. “At least that's what we did against LA and I imagine we'll probably do the same thing with Boston. Just try to go out there and just do what I do.”

Wacha will be opposed by John Lackey in Game 2.


Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals for KMOV.com and the BaseballStL mobile app. You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and notes.

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