St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha spoke to the media today prior to pitching in NLCS Game 6 on Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Q. Michael, what did you learn about the first match‑up against the Dodgers that you can use again?
MICHAEL WACHA: I mean, just mainly just keep attacking the zone. Just these past two or three starts that I’ve been out there and had some success, just keep attacking the zone, limit the base‑on balls because that’s where you get in trouble as a pitcher. So I feel like if you can just attack the zone, basically all of our pitchers have been doing this series, it will be pretty good.
Q. Obviously this is a big game, but does it add anything to you that you’re facing another pitcher from the state of Texas who was going to be an Aggie in Clayton Kershaw? Is there any Texas pride at stake here?
MICHAEL WACHA: I guess I haven’t really thought about it like that. No, I wouldn’t say so. I feel like there are a lot of great players from Texas. I feel like we kind of support each other, I guess, in a way. Yeah, I just try not to see who really I’m facing on the other side and just try to worry about myself mainly.
Q. I wondered how much you’ve learned over the course of this second half facing teams in tight‑‑ within a week like you did with the Reds or like you did with maybe the Cubs and a few other teams, and how that’s maybe added to your approach in the sense of switching things up, maybe throwing pitches in different counts in ways that maybe you didn’t have to as a college pitcher or in the minor leagues in the short stints you had?
MICHAEL WACHA: Oh, I mean, it’s been‑‑ yeah, it’s definitely a change. Just sitting down with Yadier, we have pitchers meetings and stuff, and we go over all that kind of stuff and different counts and different hitters and stuff. So I’ve really learned a lot in the second half I’ve been up here just talking to Yadier and talking with other pitchers and stuff. I feel like it’s really helped out a lot.
Q. I was wondering if you could just talk about how you’re walking that line of balancing the competitiveness and preparation and also taking some time to enjoy and maybe let some of this soak in in your first postseason experience?
MICHAEL WACHA: Oh, I mean, I think you definitely have to find the balance. I mean, there is always that time where mentally you have to get prepared and get prepared for that next start. But in between you’re going and watching film and stuff. But you’re also enjoying the game and watching your teammates compete out there. That’s a lot of fun. Just this whole postseason ride has just been amazing. It’s so much fun already, hopefully we can just keep it going.
Q. Just wondering how big a lift do you think the team can get from coming home to play this game? If you don’t win tomorrow, to be home for Game 7?
MICHAEL WACHA: It’s huge having home‑field advantage. It’s great playing back here in front of these great fans and stuff. I feel like it will be fun. It was a lot more fun pitching at home than it was pitching in Pittsburgh, that’s for sure. I’m really looking forward to the big crowd out there tomorrow night and the energy around the ballpark.
Q. Did you notice the fans yelling more so in Pittsburgh and you just kind of filter it out? How does that work for you?
MICHAEL WACHA: Wait, what do you mean?
Q. When you pitched in Pittsburgh and they were yelling your name, does that make it harder for you or do you just have to tune it out?
MICHAEL WACHA: Yeah, it didn’t really make it harder. It kind of‑‑ I mean, you could definitely hear it and stuff, but I just kind of tried to use it to my advantage in a way. Use that as adrenaline to help me dig deep in the ballgame or give me a little extra oomph on a certain pitch. It was a lot of fun pitching in that atmosphere as well, you know, whenever everyone’s against you. But those situations are pretty fun.
Q. I was wondering if you could give an example of when you’re in the dugout on a non‑pitching day and you’re hanging out by Wainwright and Carpenter, just one example of maybe some sort of tidbit of information or how they helped you look at something, just an example of the influence they’ve been during a game like that?
MICHAEL WACHA: I guess one example is in Pittsburgh. Joe was pitching out there the day before I was, and I was pitching the next night. But Clark came up there and talked to me. It was loud in there. He was telling me about some of his experiences with some loud games and stuff, and just how to handle that kind of stuff. I really just take it in and I think that helps out pretty well.
Q. On the same topic, has there been a moment for you where the gravity of the moment has affected you at all where you realized, wow, this is the big time, this is the LCS? Did you step back and realize it all because it looks like you haven’t been fazed at all?
MICHAEL WACHA: No, I feel like every guy on our team, they’re real good at containing that kind of stuff and never letting that moment get too big on you and just staying composed out on the mound at the plate, just throughout the game. It really shows what kind of team we have. I think in order to play well, you just can’t get caught up in the moment. You’ve just got to stay composed out there.