ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (106-72)
at BOSTON RED SOX (107-70)
World Series Game 6 - Boston leads series 3-2
First pitch: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -115, St. Louis +105, Total: 7
The Red Sox return home Wednesday looking to knock off the Cardinals and clinch a World Series title in front of their home fans at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918.
Given the unusual endings to Game 3 and Game 4, Game 5 was quite normal as two Red Sox runs in the seventh proved decisive in a 3-1 victory. The Cardinals will be thrilled to have Michael Wacha (7-1, 2.22 ERA) on the mound for this all-important game, as the rookie right-hander has been brilliant this postseason with a 4-0 record in four starts to go along with a 1.00 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. In Game 2 at Boston, he gave up two runs in six innings to beat John Lackey for the win. Lackey (12-14, 3.51 ERA) will take the mound again in this one looking to avenge the last start, when he allowed three earned runs in 6.1 innings in the loss. He also got in some extra work in Game 4, throwing a hitless inning of relief. Overall, the Red Sox have dominated at Fenway Park in 2013 with a 58-30 record (.659) while the Cardinals were strong on the road at 46-42 (.523). Returning to the AL will have big implications for both teams. For the Red Sox, it means David Ortiz, who could be on his way to the World Series MVP title with a ridiculous .733 BA, can return to DH while Mike Napoli slots in at first base. For the Cardinals, it should allow the ailing Allen Craig to DH while Matt Adams continues to play first.
Wacha (0.99 WHIP) seemingly gets better every start and now has 74 strikeouts, 25 walks and only six homers allowed in 81 innings. In his past three starts he has a 0.92 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Although he has been slightly worse on the road this year (2.70 ERA, 1.17 WHIP), donít expect that to be a problem with how he handled Fenway Park in his first try. The one guy he has to watch out for is none other than Ortiz, who smacked a two-run shot in the sixth inning to give Boston its only runs of the game. In that contest, like many others, the St. Louis bullpen was tremendous, going three innings and giving up just one hit and no runs while striking out six. Cardinals relievers have a 2.20 ERA this postseason while keeping batters to a pithy .184 BA, fanning 43 batters in 45 innings.
Lackey (1.16 WHIP) is now pitching in his sixth postseason, placing a true veteran against a rookie. In 18 career postseason appearances (15 starts) he has a 3.14 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, going 5-5 with 73 strikeouts and 34 walks. Overall this season he struck out 181 and walked 45 in 207.2 innings, with the only scary part about his stat line being the 26 home runs he allowed. Lackey also pitched far better at home in 2013 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.08 WHIP at Fenway Park, going 7-4 (team 10-5) in those 15 starts. Lackey was given a 2-1 lead by Ortizís home run in Game 2 but couldnít hold on, with a sac-fly and error giving the Cardinals the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. In his career, Lackey has done well against some of St. Louisí key hitters including OFs Carlos Beltran (1-for-12) and Matt Holliday (1-for-10). And while the Cardinals bullpen has been good this postseason, the Boston bullpen has been even better, with a 1.34 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .216 opponents' BA and seven saves in 47 innings.