Cardinals starter Michael Wacha dazzled, shutting the Dodgers out over six and two-thirds innings. He allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out eight, escaping jams in the fifth and sixth innings before giving way to the bullpen with two outs in the seventh.
Wacha retired the first two batters he faced, but his pitch count ran close to 110 as Nick Punto stepped to the plate. Punto singled on an 0-2 ground ball to center, ending Wacha’s evening. Matheny went to the mound and brought in lefty Kevin Siegrist. Siegrist uncorked two wild pitches, allowing Punto to advance from first to third, but he got Michael Young to end an eight-pitch at-bat with a lazy fly ball to right field.
Including his Game 4 start against the Pirates in the NLDS, Wacha has allowed just one run in 14 post-season innings, striking out 17 while walking just three. Not bad for a 22-year-old.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.