"He was good right off the bat," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Wacha. "He was working the bottom of the zone, and we were surprised at how good his curveball was. It has always been a good pitch for him, but he didn't have confidence in it. Now that he sees results, he'll trust it and use it."
Wacha worked to refine the pitch during a memorable Spring Training (1-0, 1.77 ERA). He carried confidence from Florida to Cincinnati, allowing only Todd Frazier's first-inning home run.
"I was pretty happy with the curveball," Wacha said. "I was able to throw it for strikes and expand the strike zone."
Wacha was also able to make big pitches at key moments. He got red-hot Joey Votto to fly out to center and end the third inning with a runner at third base. Another runner was stranded at third when Jay Bruce struck out and Marlon Byrd grounded out in the fourth. Yet another runner stood at third when Wacha induced a weak ground ball to shortstop from Billy Hamilton. Bruce flew to center with a runner on second base to end the sixth.
"It was really good pitching by Wacha; he was awesome," Reds Manager Bryan Price said. "He was back to being the guy we had seen a couple of years ago and had really good downward plane on his fastball. He had a really good change and could throw the curve for a strike whenever he wanted to."
The 2013 National League Championship Series MVP is attempting to put a forgettable 2014 behind him. Shoulder problems limited Wacha to 107 innings last summer.
"My arm is feeling great, my pitches are coming along well, and I was happy with my outing today," Wacha said.
Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.