TV: 8:07 p.m. ET, FOX
The St. Louis Cardinals are one loss away from being eliminated from the 2013 World Series. On Wednesday, the hopes of the National League champs rest on the shoulders of a 22-year-old rookie.
Five months ago, Michael Wacha was of barely legal drinking age and had yet to pitch in the Majors. Now, he’ll look to beat the Boston Red Sox and force a deciding Game Seven.
Wacha, though, is no ordinary rookie. Following up a strong regular season as both a starter and reliever, the right-hander has arguably performed better than anyone in this year’s playoffs. He has been virtually unhittable in four starts, registering a 1.00 ERA in four starts. In 27 innings, Wacha has struck out 28 batters and allowed just 19 men to reach base.
After the Cardinals lost the opener of the Fall Classic, Wacha took the mound Fenway Park and shut down the best offense in baseball. He bested John Lackey, surrendering two runs in six innings. Wacha gave up just three hits, improving his record to 4-0 in the postseason.
Boston’s only runs came on a two-run homer from David Ortiz in the sixth inning. Wacha was able retire Ortiz once, however, something that might be considered an accomplishment in this series. Ortiz is the midst of an historical performance and tied a World Series record in Game Five by reaching base safely for a ninth consecutive time.
If the Red Sox can close out the series in Boston, the 16-year veteran is almost a guarantee to win be named the MVP. Ortiz is hitting .733 against St. Louis with two home runs, six RBI and a 1.267 slugging percentage.
Even if Wacha is somehow able to keep Ortiz at bay, he still might have to be close to perfect to give his team a chance. The Cardinals offense has struggled in the series, hitting just .218 with two home runs. They’ve scored three total runs in the last two games, with little help from the middle of the order. In their last two losses, St. Louis’s 3-4-5 hitters are a combined 3-22.