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Cards rookie Wacha talks no-hit bids, Game 2 vs. Kershaw

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

ST. LOUIS -- There's a question that some Cardinals pitchers have been asking the last few days, a question inspired by rookie Michael Wacha, a question that only Wacha is really qualified to answer.

It's a question raised the other day by injured Cardinals closer Jason Motte in an interview with ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, a question that continued to be a topic of light-hearted discussion Thursday as the Cardinals prepared for Friday's Game 1 of the NLCS against the Dodgers.

If you're going to lose a no-hit bid in the late innings, do you want it to happen on an infield chopper or on a 9,000-foot home run?

"It wasn't 9,000 feet," Wacha said. "It was a good 15,000."

Nice that he can laugh about it.

Wacha will start Saturday's Game 2 against Clayton Kershaw in the latest super-kid vs. superstar matchup (even if the 25-year-old Kershaw is only three years older than Wacha). In Wacha's last two starts -- his final regular-season start against the Nationals and his Division Series start against the Pirates -- he carried a no-hitter two outs into the ninth (before Ryan Zimmerman's infield-chop hit) and one out into the eighth (before Pedro Alvarez's 9,000- or 15,000-foot home run).

So if you've always wanted to know the answer to this question that has stumped mankind -- or at least pitcher-kind -- for ages, Wacha is the man to answer it.

"Definitely the chopper," he said. "Definitely not the home run -- there went the ERA. Definitely not the home run into our hotel -- 15,000 feet away."

Either way, the two hits hardly took away from Wacha's brilliance. And it's that brilliance that could be a big factor in this Cardinals-Dodgers NLCS, given that Wacha and Kershaw match up in Game 2, and could well meet again in a Game 6.

"I try not to think much about who I'm going against," Wacha said. "I just try to throw zeroes up there as much as I can."

If those zeroes remain in the hit column, too, so much the better.

Wacha has noticed that he has been part of a trend this postseason, with more and more teams relying on kids with not even a full season in the big leagues in the most important games of the year.

Wacha pitched and won Game 4 against the Pirates, when the Cardinals were facing elimination. Gerrit Cole started Game 5 for the Pirates against the Cardinals, and Sonny Gray was set to start Game 5 for the A's Thursday night against the Tigers.

"It just seems like a lot of young pitchers are pitching with confidence," Wacha said.

Wacha certainly has confidence.

Enough confidence to joke about 15,000-foot home runs.

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