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Cards 2, Pirates 1: Wacha's Second No-Hit Bid in a Month Becomes a Nail Biter

Michael Wacha took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, before it was undone by a solo Pedro Alvarez home run. Two Cardinal relievers made that one-run lead stand up over 5 more outs.

Jared Wickerham

I'd just like to point out what an extraordinary team we have. Of the three pitchers who took the mound today, they had a combined 202 major league innings before they took on the task of pitching 9 straight innings against one of the best teams in baseball in an elimination game.

Trevor Rosenthal closed the game and was the oldest, with a May 29, 1990 birthday. Both Wacha and Martinez were born in 1991 (July 1 and September 21, respectively). So, the average age  was around 22 and a half.

The story of the game was Michael Wacha's 7-and-a-third inning no-hit bid. Fresh off a regular season attempt in September that went to a heart-breaking final out, Wacha doubled-down on his success by shutting down the Pirates with 9 strikeouts and a walk, before giving up a solo home run in the eighth to Pedro Alvarez. He walked Russell Martin and was relieved by Carlos Martinez.

The solo home run quickly transformed a "will he do it" game-watching experience into a "oh no, we only have a one-run lead in an elimination game" sphincter-clenching experience. Martinez and Yadier Molina extinguished the eighth-inning threat quickly. With Jose Tabata pinch hitting, pinch runner Josh Harrison was nabbed trying to steal second. On the next pitch, Tabata struck out.

Trevor Rosenthal relieved Martinez in the ninth. Rosie quickly managed a strike out and a ground out, but lost his control as the inning went on. He walked Neil Walker, which left the Cardinals in the unenviable position of having the winning run come to the plate with Pittsburgh's best hitter coming up.

Rosenthal continued to struggle with his command, throwing three quick balls to McCutchen. But the massive tension released when McCutchen popped the ball up into shallow right field, and Matt Carpenter was able to haul it in.

The offense was not able to make much of Charlie Morton, even though Morton walked four Cardinals. The lone runs for the Cardinals scored on a Matt Holliday homer, following a walk to Carlos Beltran. The remaining Pirates relievers shut down the Cardinals over three-and-a-third innings. The Cardinals managed only three hits for the whole game.

This game delivered tremendous drama in a low-offense bout. The Cardinals return to finish the series in St. Louis in the tie-breaker, with Adam Wainwright on the mound. While there are no guarantees, especially with the Pirates apparently throwing Gerritt Cole again, you couldn't ask for a better situation for such a tiebreaker.