The scratchiness in my throat hurt as I slammed my last beer on that October day. All my buddy Eric and I wanted to do as we raced into the ballpark was see the Pittsburgh Pirates clinch the series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The postseason had taken its toll on our pipes, but the only thing we could think about was the Pirates eliminating the Cards.
The only thing standing in the way was a day at the office. We made that disappear, but the Pirates were never able to get the obstacle that was a 22-year old rookie out of there way.
We thought he would whither under the pressure. Michael Wacha would hear his name hundreds of times from the 40,000 strong that chilly day, but unlike Johnny Cueto, each time WACHA was chanted it seemed to just motivate the fire baller.
Seven innings later, the Pirates were punchless and hitless against Wacha. The Cards clung to a 2-0 lead. We were contemplating throwing our empty beer cups at the obnoxious Cardinals fans around us. It was painful. We were witnessing the unthinkable, the underdogs were being no-hit, the worst form of baseball history for Pittsburgh.
And then PedroSeason happened.
Pedro Alvarez reaches for a Michael Wacha pitch and crushed it 438 feet
Thankfully, Pedro Alvarez changed it all with a solo bomb, his third of the series. 438 feet of hysteria.
But the Cards pen slammed the door. Our dream of seeing the seemingly-forever-woeful-to-suddenly-awesome Pittsburgh Pirates advance to the National League Championship Series was shattered by the Cardinals, but mainly it was Wacha. Nine strikeouts over 7.1 dominant innings in an elimination game solidified Wacha as a postseason stud, or enemy number one for Buccos fans. Perspective is everything.
So, imagine our joy when we learned that Wacha is working out with Jameson Taillon this offseason. Jen Langosch tells the story here. Taillon is also 22 years old and lives ‘within minutes’ of Wacha in The Woodlands, Texas.
With the Pirates presumably banking on Taillon later this season, it’s nice to get Wacha’s perspective on the Buccos top prospect:
"He’s a stud. I would watch some of his bullpens that he would throw down there. Just a big body, athletic. He can bring it. He’s got some nasty stuff."
Let’s pray that Taillon returns the favor in St. Louis this October. I would drink a few beers to that.