Wacha waiting for 10th win after rare blip
Right-hander fans seven, but allows five runs over five innings vs. Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Wacha is pretty hard on himself.
Sunday's 9-2 loss to the Phillies was one of his worst starts of the year. And after the game, Wacha couldn't think about the 13 other times he had started and given his team a chance to win this season. All that was on the right-hander's mind were the mistakes he made that day.
"I guess you could think of [the good starts], but right now it stinks pretty good and you definitely don't want to experience this feeling too many times," Wacha said.
Luckily for Wacha, he hasn't had to experience that feeling many times this year. The 23-year-old is 9-3 with a 2.85 ERA, but allowed a season-high five runs in only five innings -- matching his shortest start of the season.
Both Wacha and manager Mike Matheny identified his main flaw on the day as his inability to locate his fastball, especially early in counts. Because of this, the Phillies were able to work into favorable counts and take advantage of Wacha's limitations; since one of his main strengths is his ability to vary pitch types, when he is backed into unfavorable counts and becomes more predictable it is easier to make contact.
"Today was one of those days where it was a lot of work for him," Matheny said. "He almost got out of a mess, but then there was that two-out base hit that put a little distance between us. But he's been extremely good and you're going to have days like this."
Matheny continued by saying that he was impressed by how Wacha, who allowed three of his five runs in the second inning, was able to recover in the third and fourth innings by going six-up, six-down. But three more hits in the fifth inning broke the game open once more, putting two more runs on the board for the Phillies and forcing Wacha out of the game. The right-hander did finish with seven strikeouts.
Wacha ended the fifth by striking out the inning's final two batters. Matheny said he wouldn't have been surprised if Wacha turned around and had a quick sixth and seventh like he did in the third and fourth, but at that point wanted "to save him a little bit."
Wacha's two worst starts of the year both have come against the Phillies -- the lowest-scoring team in baseball -- with his April 28 outing earning him a win, but he allowed four runs and six hits in the process.
"They are aggressive, but they made me pay for my mistakes out there on the mound," Wacha said. "Just too many balls in the middle of the plate. Both times they've been able to hit my mistakes."