(BaseballStL) -- The Cardinals needed Michael Wacha, their prized 22-year-old rookie, to bail them out again in Wednesday’s Game 6 of the World Series.
If he did it, the Cardinals would have won all five of his postseason starts and, more importantly, force a decisive Game 7 in Boston. If he didn’t, the Cardinals would start the offseason one game sooner than planned.
It would be the latter for the Cardinals as they fell 6-1 to the Red Sox on Wednesday.
Having defeated the Red Sox in Game 2 at Fenway Park, the Cardinals handed the ball to Wacha with their season on the line. He wouldn’t disappoint early, but it would quickly unravel the longer he stayed in.
After Red Sox starter John Lackey stranded two Cardinals runners in scoring position with no outs in the second, Wacha quickly found himself in the same predicament as Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino reached to start the bottom half for Boston. But Wacha slammed the door on two pop-outs from Xander Bogaerts and Stephen Drew before he struck out David Ross to keep the game scoreless.
The Red Sox offense finally got to Wacha in the third inning.
With one out and a runner on second base, Wacha issued an intentional walk to David Ortiz, who entered the game 11-for-15 in the World Series. Wacha hit Gomes with a 93-mph fastball to load the bases with two outs.
Victorino then smacked a 2-1 fastball high off the Green Monster to drive all three runners in for a 3-0 Red Sox lead. It was the first hit off Wacha with runners in scoring position this postseason (14 at-bats).
Stephen Drew, who was 1-for-16 in the series, sent the first pitch thrown by Wacha in the fourth over the right field for a 4-0 Red Sox lead. Ellsbury followed with a one-out double before Wacha issued his second intentional walk to Ortiz with two outs.
That would be the end of Wacha’s start as he left down by four runs and responsible for the two runners on base in the fourth.
Game 4 starter Lance Lynn entered in relief and allowed the first three batters to reach, including two RBI-singles. Both inherited runners scored and were charged to Wacha.
Seth Maness entered to strike out Bogaerts to end the three-run inning.
Wacha’s final line read: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO. He threw 76 pitches, eight of which were intentional balls thrown.
To put Wednesday’s rough outing into perspective, Wacha allowed only three runs over 35 2/3 innings pitches dating back to his last regular season start.
Nonetheless, the future is bright for Wacha. Whether he did well or poorly in Game 6 shouldn’t matter to the fans. If not for him, the Cardinals wouldn’t have been playing Game 6, or even the World Series.
Now about that Cardinals offense...
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals for KMOV.com and the BaseballStL mobile app. You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and notes.