Michael Wacha loses no-hitter with one out to go

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We’re on the verge of history at Busch Stadium.

Making good use of his vicious changeup and high-90s fastball, Cardinals rookie right-hander Michael Wacha has no-hit the visiting Washington Nationals through the top of the seventh inning. The Cardinals will carry a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the frame.

Wacha has yielded just two baserunners — the first on a booted groundball by second baseman Matt Carpenter and the second on a Ryan Zimmerman walk to open the seventh inning. We’ll provide regular updates as the 22-year-old tries to finish this off. He has only thrown 86 pitches to this point and needs just six more outs.

Bud Smith, also a rookie at the time, threw the last Cardinals no-hitter back in 2001.

The Nats were eliminated from the playoffs on Monday but trotted out their standard lineup.

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UPDATE, 10:11 p.m. ET: Wacha surrendered a leadoff walk to Adam LaRoche in the top of the eighth but induced a double play groundball from Wilson Ramos. Anthony Rendon then flew out to left field. Wacha has only three outs left — he’s at 99 pitches — and the Cards lead 2-0 heading to the bottom of the eighth.

UPDATE, 10:24 p.m. ET: Wacha got an easy groundout to short from pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi to open the top of the ninth and then struck out Denard Span for the second out. The third batter of the inning, Ryan Zimmerman, hit a bouncer that went over Wacha’s head. Pete Kozma tried to field it quickly and make the throw but wound up pulling first baseman Matt Adams off the bag. It was ruled an infield hit for Zimmerman and Wacha was pulled immediately after. Trevor Rosenthal closed out the 2-0 win.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.