No-no near miss highlights Michael Wacha’s comeback season

The year of the no-hit bid continues, and when Michael Wacha got through a 1-2-3 eighth inning on 12 pitches on Sunday, I thought he was going to finish it off. He was at 107 pitches, five more than his season high, but he was mixing his pitches well, keeping the Pirates off-balance, and then dialing up a fastball when needed.authentic nfl jerseys cheap

It was the 26th no-hit bid of at least six innings in 2018 — already more than the 24 such bids all of 2017 — but only Sean Manaea and James Paxton had completed one (the Dodgers had a combined no-hitter). Wacha had just missed a no-hitter in his rookie season with the Cardinals back in 2013, losing it with two outs in the ninth inning against the Nationals on an infield single. Given the shoulder issues he has battled in his career, this was an easy no-hitter to root for.25

Alas, pinch-hitter Colin Moran led off the ninth, fouled off two cutters, fouled off a 94 mph fastball on the outside corner, and then lined a base hit on a changeup over the head of second baseman Kolten Wong. The last no-hitter for the Cardinals remains the one Bud Smith threw in 2001, and the last one thrown for them at home is still Bob Forsch’s no-no in 1983.

Wacha will probably question the pitch selection — maybe going up in the zone with another fastball considering Moran was late on the first heater — but it was a great effort by a pitcher quietly having an excellent under-the-radar season. With the 5-0 win, Wacha improved to 7-1 with a 2.41 ERA, certainly putting himself in the running for the National League All-Star team.

It’s been a fascinating season for the Cardinals. They’re 32-25, which is good for a 91-win pace, but they’re in third place and there have been many frustrating aspects to the first two-plus months. Marcell Ozuna hit a grand slam on Sunday, but that was just his fifth home run and his .272/.323/.374 line is well below the .312/.376/.548 line with 37 home runs he had in 2017 for the Marlins. Dexter Fowler has struggled with a sub-.200 batting average and lost playing time, Wong is hitting .181 and the back of the bullpen had some hiccups in jerseys for cheap

The one constant has been the starting rotation, even with injuries to Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright, and then Alex Reyes returning from last year’s Tommy John surgery for a few days and immediately landing back on the DL with a lat strain. Without Wacha and free agent Miles Mikolas — he’s 6-1 with a 2.49 ERA — the Cardinals would be a lot further back. The rotation is third in the majors with a 2.94 ERA and has become the heart of the team.