Rookie vs Veteran in Game Six

There are potentially two “must win” games left in this baseball season:  Game Six for the Cardinals, Game 7 for the Red Sox.  Game Six will pit the Rookie with 64.2 IP  vs. The Veteran, 2,065 IP.

His short career stats show Michael Wacha [22] wins more at home:

Busch Stadium (2.15 ERA, .174 opponents’ batting average .504 OPS).

Road Games     (4.34 ERA, .316 opponents’ batting average .814  OPS).

He did, however, beat the Red Sox at Fenway in Game 2.

Lackey [35] allowed just three runs in 6 1/3 innings in Game 2, as well as a scoreless inning of relief in Game 4. Lackey has been to the Cusp of the Cup before; he won in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for the Angels against the Giants.

A Sox win in this game would mean redemption for Lackey.

If the Cards pull out a W in Game Six, it will mean that the starters are less critical, since they will be on a very short leash before “Johnny Allstaff” takes over.

Bernie Miklasz (@miklasz) of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch talks about Michael Wacha taking the mound tonight for the Cardinals as Boston looks to close out the World Series with a win…

It’s ridiculous, really, to ask Michael Wacha to do it again. World Series Game 6. The Cardinals are on the precipice. The Red Sox are thinking of champagne and parades. Two proud baseball towns are on tilt. This could be it. The end of the 2013 season. The end of the line. The end of the dream.

Pressure?

What pressure?

Tim Britton (@TimBritton) and Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) write that the Red Sox hope Wacha isn’t his usual self tonight at Fenway…

Standing between the Red Sox and a world championship is a 22-year-old rookie a year removed from college.

Should be easy, right?

Nothing’s been easy this postseason against Michael Wacha.

Wacha will attempt to tie a major-league record on Wednesday by winning his fifth game of a single postseason — a record currently shared by Randy Johnson andFrancisco Rodriguez. No pitcher has ever won five games in a single postseason as a starter.

Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) of the Boston Herald breaks down the roadblock that is Michael Wacha and the Cardinals as Boston eyes a win tonight…

Careful, Red Sox fans.

Before you finalize staking out a position for the duck boat parade, take a look around at the set-up for Game 6 of the World Series tonight between the Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.

The momentum of consecutive road victories plus a return to Fenway Park just one win from a championship is mighty heady stuff for the Sox and their legions of diehard followers, but there are plenty of warning signs flashing that should give pause — and even some concern.

Farrell has two major advantages:

Facing a “One-and-Done’ situation, Matheny will exhaust all his pitchers to win Game Six, while Farrell can “save” some innings for his pen, if the Cards take a significant lead in the game.

The other huge advantage for Farrell is that he can get David “En Fuego” Ortiz and Mike Napoli in the batting order.1 green monster copy

 

The “Fenway-Friendly-Factor”—the loud crowd, the Angles in the Outfield, the Sox comfort with their infield’s quirks, the familiarity with the warning tracks and walls and, of course, the Green Goblin—is frequently over-blown by the media, but the kid starting for St. Louis is just 22 years old, who was still in college 17 months ago, and has just 13 starts under his belt.  Yet, his combined record for season [4-1] and Post-season [4-0] is spectacular and he may be able to ignore the surroundings and focus on that tunnel between him and Molina’s glove.  He said he has yet to shake off Molina.

After all the tumult and tragedy in the first 5 games, two well-played “classic” games and a Sox win in Game Seven would be a delightful conclusion to The Game’s 2013 season.

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from USA Today

Wacha’s journey from untested rookie to postseason sensation traces back to his youth baseball days, with a significant nod to his three years of growth at Texas A&M and a year in the Cardinals’ touted minor-league system.

The son of a small-town Iowa couple who moved to Texarkana nearly 20 years ago, Wacha grew up in an athletic family. His younger brother, Lucas, is a redshirt freshman linebacker at Wyoming. Their kid sister, Brette, a sophomore in high school, plays basketball, volleyball and softball. Their mother, Karen, was also a high school athlete.

Tom Wacha, who stands 6-5, coached his three boys in summer baseball – oldest son Charley now lives in Arkansas – and even after settling in northeast Texas, the family dedicated fall Sundays to rooting hard for the Green Bay Packers, a remnant of the allegiance developed by Tom’s dad.

Brette, in fact, was named after former Packers icon Brett Favre.

In such a competitive environment, Michael stood out for his ability to remain on an even keel, a trait that’s part coaching and part innate personality.

“He always had great composure and mound presence,” Jones said. “We taught him to work fast and have a bulldog mentality on the mound, not show any weakness to the other team. It wasn’t hard to teach him.”

With a fastball in the 84-88 mph range, Wacha was not drafted out of high school, but made an impact right away at Texas A&M, going 9-2 with a 2.90 ERA in his freshman season.

As a sophomore in 2011, Wacha got the win that propelled the Aggies to the College World Series for the first time in 12 seasons, part of a postseason in which he went 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA. In his junior year, he had two postseason starts and went 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA.

“It was so beneficial being able to go to that school and getting an opportunity to play in those games,” Wacha said. “It’s really helped me out now.”

Wacha was the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft, taken after seven other pitchers because his fastball – which climbed to the mid-90s as he put on weight and got stronger in school – was only complemented by a changeup, with his curveball lagging.

It remains a seldom used third option, but the fastball-changeup combination works in large part because the 6-6 Wacha throws with such a downward plane. That’s the result of working with Aggies coach Rob Childress, who had Wacha raise his arm slot to take advantage of his height.

It took Wacha just under a year to reach the majors, and he was sharp in two of three starts in late May and early June before being sent back down to Class AAA Memphis for more seasoning.

The club initially used him as a reliever upon his return in August, but Wacha was so impressive in five September starts – registering a 1.72 ERA and falling one out short of a no-hitter in his last outing – that he made the postseason rotation.

“Michael’s stuff is above average, mostly because it’s a little different,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He comes from such a high slot that he’s getting a deeper angle on his pitches.”

Wacha also benefits from having all-world catcher Yadier Molina calling the shots behind the plate, which allows him to work fast and concentrate on executing his pitches. Wacha said he has never shaken off Molina.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2013/10/30/michael-wacha-cardinals-game-6-world-series/3308745/

Topics: Boston Red Sox Vs. St. Louis Cardinals, Game Six, John Lackey, Michael Wacha, World Series Featured

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