Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 5/31/13
ST. LOUIS Before a monsoon descended on Busch Stadium, before boos descended over a struggling Cardinals reliever, a kid everyone had been waiting on won. Well, OK. Michael Wacha didn't officially win. There will be no "W" alongside his name in the box score that accompanies the bizarre game that reached the ninth inning before it was cut short by a rain that fell as hard and fast as the spirits of Cardinal fans who watched Wacha's debut go almost flawlessly until it was out of his hands. "What happened?" asked a child below the press box who had fallen asleep during Wacha's dominance and awakened after Mitchell Boggs blew his third save this year. What happened was Jeff Francoeur smashed a two-run homer 400-plus feet to left field to turn the 2-1 lead Wacha left with into a 2-2 tie. That led to a walk, a pitching change, a hit batter and an error. Eric Hosmer doubled of off Victor Marte to make it hurt, moving the Royals' lead to 4-2. Then the second rain came. This one was worse than the one that delayed the start of the game for an hour. It left standing pools on the warning track and made rows of stadium seats look like canals. The game underwent its second delay with three outs left to go in the top of the ninth. What happened? This game got wacky, then wet, then way, way too long. But on the subject of Wacha, the most-important thing is this: The 21-year-old right-hander who is the latest and supposed-to-be greatest arm in this season's parade of rookie Cardinals pitchers backed up the confidence that oozed out of him during his first public appearance as a Major League starter on Wednesday. "Here to stay," Wacha had said then, when asked if this was a short trip or permanent promotion. And what about the buzz, the fever that's only grown as the first selection in the Cardinals' 2012 draft (19th overall) burned through the minors (4-0 with a 1.71 ERA) on his way to St. Louis? "I just try not to pay too much attention to it," Wacha said. "I have my own expectations. I just try to go out there and pitch the way I know how." His first pitch Thursday was a strike, and that was the first of many more good things. He retired 13 Royals in a row, striking out more in that stretch (four) than the number of balls that left the infield (two). He went on to last seven innings. In that time, he surrendered two hits and one earned run while walking none and striking out six. Some context: The Royals haven't hit the ball very well lately, so maybe those numbers are a little misleading. Some more context: Only three other pitchers since 1916 (Johnny Cueto, Jimmy Jones and Wayne Simpson) have had a debut as good as Wacha's. A conclusion: Before his first game took a strange, soggy turn, Wacha justified the hype. Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at frederickson.ben@gmail.com
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