Michael Wacha hands 1-0 lead over to Cardinals’ bullpen after stellar start in Game 2 of NLCS

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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.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.