PITTSBURGH — Not often one for hyperbole, Yadier Molina couldn’t contain his giddiness as he waited for the Cardinals to wrap up an early spring game along Florida’s east coast. He had just been behind the plate, catching three innings by a 21-year-old who wasn’t yet a year removed from college.
Singling out Michael Wacha’s pitches, poise and presence, Molina was bold in his assertion that day. “I think,” Molina said at the time, “that guy, right now, can pitch in the big leagues.” On Monday, the rest of the baseball world understood what Molina saw more than six months ago.
Wacha, who arrived in the Majors three months after that spring appearance, debuted on the postseason stage hoping to carry over momentum from the near no-hitter he threw in his final regular-season outing. What he did was nearly repeat it.
Supported by Matt Holliday’s sixth-inning homer, Wacha extended the Cardinals’ season by dazzling in a 2-1 Game 4 win over the Pirates. The victory came in front of 40,493 at PNC Park and sends this National League Division Series back to St. Louis, where the Cards have ace Adam Wainwrightlined up for a second win-or-go-home game Wednesday — 4 p.m. CT on TBS if the Dodgers and Braves have yet to decide the other NLDS, or 7 p.m. CT if it has been completed.