St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha addressed the media prior to Game 1 on the subject of pitching in World Series Game 2.
Q. When you pitch in a ballpark like this unique ballpark the first time, how does that affect you and how you approach this game? Does it affect you at all when you think about your start?
MICHAEL WACHA: Yeah, I mean this is kind of a tricky little ballpark with the dimensions and that kind of stuff. One pitch can really kind of change a game. You try not to think too much about it, just try to approach it just like any other game, any other stadium. And that’s just making pitches down in the zone and try not to give them too much of a chance to lift it.
Q. You’ve been in obvious some really tough games in postseason, but here, World Series, Fenway Park, has any of this fazed you yet now that you’re here?
MICHAEL WACHA: I’m just trying not to think too much about it, just trying to approach every game the same. Trying not to get too caught up in the moment. I’m sure after the season I’ll be able to look back and think about, hey, I pitched in the World Series and that kind of stuff. So, you know, right now just trying to get focused on the next start coming up tomorrow and just go from there.
Q. At what point did you realize you were going to be in the position you’re in as the No. 2 starter? When you look at this lineup, what are some of the things that stick out to you the most?
MICHAEL WACHA: Yeah, I mean, I didn’t really know what day I was going to be pitching. Mike told me just the other day that I was going to get Game 2. But I’m pretty excited about it. Pretty excited about pitching here in Fenway, as well. I mean this lineup that Boston has, it’s a good lineup, a lot of power, a lot of speed. They battle up at the plate. You just have to make effective pitches and just attack them, don’t give them free baserunners, and just attack the zone and make effective pitches against them.
Q. How much do you change when you, say, face a team twice, like you did the Dodgers last series? Do you change much when you face a team two times real close together or do you simply do what you’re doing?
MICHAEL WACHA: I mean, I think you go with whatever works. The first time you’re going through them, seeing them, you kind of see what their weaknesses are, maybe just a little bit, and you try to attack those a little bit more. At least that’s what we did against LA. And I imagine we’ll probably do the same thing with Boston. Just try to go out there and just do what I do. Just pound the strike zone and make effective pitches.
Q. Can you talk about your competitiveness on the mound?
MICHAEL WACHA: I mean, I want the ball in big situations. There’s none bigger than the World Series. And so I’m excited about getting it and I think every guy on our team wants the ball in these kind of situations. And we have so many competitors on our team, it’s just been fun to watch and I look forward to the series.
Q. A big part of how you guys defend against the run is the pitchers and how they vary their time but also not take too long between pitches. How much of that was new to you when you came to Spring Training? How much did you work on in the minors? And how much did you have to develop through and continue to work on through this season?
MICHAEL WACHA: I started working on that kind of stuff like in college. That was one of the big things, controlling the running game. So it wasn’t real new to me when we went to Spring Training, but it was definitely one of the big points brought up. We’ve got the best catcher in the game behind the plate for us. That makes our job a little bit easier. We’ve got to get the ball quick and vary our times and be quick to the plate.
Q. Adam talked about yesterday how he goes up to you and any other young kid who comes to the Cardinals, and shakes their hand and introduces himself. What has Adam and by extension Chris Carpenter meant to you in your young career?
MICHAEL WACHA: I mean, those guys are unbelievable to have in the clubhouse. They’re two veteran guys who have been through it all, World Series games, big playoff games, been pitching in some big‑time clutch games. It’s great to talk to those guys and they really helped me throughout this whole postseason, that’s for sure. Just talking to me about how to handle the crowds, how to just not get too caught up in the moment and just go out there and pitch your game, and pitch how you did to get to this position, and just try not to change too much.
Q. I wondered if and how much just your personal life has changed in the last couple of weeks. Are there a lot more demands on your time? Are you still able to go to McDonald’s or whatever without being recognized or has that changed?
MICHAEL WACHA: It was pretty much the same until after this last start in the NLCS. But, yeah, I went to go eat at just a little restaurant and I had a milkshake named after me, and that was pretty weird. So I had to try that out; it was pretty good. It was in St. Louis. I don’t even know what it was called, I think it was like Annie’s or something. I don’t know what it’s called.
Yeah, that was kind of different. But nothing too much has changed, just a lot more texts and phone calls and stuff. But everything is pretty much the same.
Q. It seems like every time you take the mound the list of accomplishments seems to keep growing. Where is a World Series start going to rank after everything you’ve done this year? And also what was the name of the milkshake?
MICHAEL WACHA: The milkshake name was “Wacha, Wacha”. Never heard that one before (laughter).
This World Series start will definitely be the No. 1, the highest, biggest, most important game that I’ve ever pitched in. Just really looking forward to it. I’ll try to approach it just like any other start. But just real excited about it.
Q. How often have you faced Will Middlebrooks in practice? And while we’re at it, what’s the flavor of Wacha, Wacha?
MICHAEL WACHA: It was like a vanilla. It had some Crackerjacks in it, added a little baseball flair to it. And then there’s some chocolate chips, I guess, in there, too. I can’t really remember everything.
But, yeah, didn’t really face him much. We played on the same team, the same American Legion team. I remember facing him there. But in high school I was on varsity my sophomore year and he was a senior that year, so I was able to pitch against him then. He’s a great player. Everyone looked up to him. He’s a superstar, that’s for sure. And he’s a good guy, too. A good friend.
Q. When did you develop your change‑up? Is that a pitch that’s sort of difficult to develop at levels where you could be just blowing guys away with a fastball?
MICHAEL WACHA: I’ve always thought the fastball, change‑up is the most important stuff. Learning curveballs too early can really damage your arm. You see a lot of injuries that way. So my dad, he raised me up throwing fastball, change‑up. And those were my main two pitches in high school. I don’t think I had a curveball until my senior year in high school. All the other kids are throwing a curveball and I’m like, “Dad, let me throw one.” It kind of became one of my strikeout pitches in college, working with Coach Rob Childress. It became quite an effective pitch for me.