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Friday, April 12, 2013

Paul Wagner, One Night - PC2464

Paul Wagner didn't even make it out of the fourth inning this night in early June 1995. It was a night Wagner gave up four earned runs and seven hits, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It was also a night he picked up his eighth loss on the season to just one win, The Post-Gazette wrote, on his way to a 5-16 season.

"I don't know what the heck's going on," Wagner told The Post-Gazette afterward. "I'm out of sync. I'm uncomfortable out there. I'm not getting in a groove. It's just amazing. Today, I felt like I took five steps backward."

Whatever it was, by the end of August Wagner had it fixed. At least for one night.

That one night, Wagner was just about as amazing as a pitcher could get, taking a no-hitter into the ninth, only losing it with one out to go, Wagner watching a ball up the middle just get past him.

"What you saw tonight is what Paul is capable of doing," Pirates manager Jim Leyland told The Washington Observer-Reporter after Wagner's gem. "He's got an outstanding arm and has two excellent pitches (fastball and slider). That's why we've stuck with him so long."

Eventually, Wagner stuck in the majors for parts of eight seasons, coming back from elbow surgery to return to the bigs in his final three seasons.

Wagner's career began in 1989, taken by the Pirates in the 12th round of the draft, out of Illinois State University.

Wagner started with the Pirates at short-season Welland, moving to single-A Augusta and high-A Salem in 1990. He first made AA Carolina and AAA Buffalo in 1992. In 1992, Wagner also made Pittsburgh.

With the Pirates in 1992, Wagner got into six games, starting one. He also gave up just one earned run in 13 innings of work. Coming back for 1993, Wagner got into 44 games for Pittsburgh, starting 17. Overall, he went 8-8, with a 4.27 ERA.

In July 1993, Wagner gave up an early three-run home run. He ended up going eight innings, giving up just those three runs, and picking up the win.

"I figured it was still a nine-inning game," Wagner told The Associated Press of his thoughts after that early home run. "If the game were just one inning, we would have lost, but it's not."

In 1994, Wagner returned for 29 outings, 17 starts. He also had a 4.59 ERA and a 7-8 record. In his 1995 campaign, Wagner had a similar ERA, 4.80. But he also had that 5-16 record and that one gem.

After a 1996 season where Wagner went 4-8 for the Pirates, he underwent elbow surgery. Going into 1997, he was just hoping to make it back, and prove himself, he told The AP.

"It seems like I've always had to defend my mental toughness," Wagner told The AP that February. "There have been cases where people have doubted whether I was hurt, or my mental capabilities, or how strong-willed I was. I know physically I'm fine, but I guess I'll have to show I'm just as strong mentally, too."

Wagner did make it back that year, getting 14 relief outings starting in July. But, by the end of August, he was released. Signed by the Brewers, Wagner got two outings to finish 1997 and 13 more in 1998. He finished out his big league career in 1999, with three final outings with the Indians.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,072
Made the Majors: 657 - 61.3%-X
Never Made Majors: 415-38.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 287-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 169

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