(SportsNetwork.com) - Nerves? Michael Wacha felt them before his first World
Series start. Nothing too bad, but he was anxious to take the mound.
When he got there -- down on the field at Fenway Park for Game 2 on Thursday
night -- Wacha found he didn't have his best stuff. He was more wild than he
had been in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, when
he outdueled former Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw twice to win MVP.
The 22-year-old Cardinals rookie walked four batters in six innings, throwing
43 percent of his pitches for balls. Still, he held the Red Sox scoreless for
5 1/3 innings, running his shutout streak in the playoffs to 19 frames.
No one had scored two runs off Wacha in more than a month, since the Rockies
knocked him for four in game on Sept. 19.
In between that game and Thursday in Boston, Wacha had twice flirted with a
no-hitter -- in his final regular season start, when he came within one out of
doing it against the Nationals; and in game 4 of the NLDS against the Pirates,
when he lost it in the eighth.
All of that was in the past when David Ortiz sent a two-run homer into the
first row of seats atop the Green Monster in the sixth inning, which gave the
Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
Wacha had left a 3-2 changeup in the zone to a hitter who had 16 career home
runs in the postseason, including four this year.
Ortiz whacked it the opposite way for No. 17.
"With this lineup that Boston has, you can't make mistakes or they'll let you
pay," said Wacha.
The mistake left him steamed. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was there to
calm him down, promising the right-hander at least a run in the top of the
The Cardinals scored three -- with a little help from the suddenly error-prone
With one out, Boston starter John Lackey walked David Freese, gave up a single
to Jon Jay and was replaced by Craig Breslow. The Cardinals executed a double
steal and Daniel Descalso drew a seven-pitch walk to load the bases.
The Red Sox, who committed the eighth-fewest errors in the majors during the
regular season, made two on the next play.
Jonny Gomes caught Matt Carpenter's sac fly in shallow left field and threw
wide of home plate. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia let it get past him on the
first base side, the first error. Then Breslow -- inexplicably with two outs
-- tried to throw Jay out at third base but sailed the pitch over the bag for
the second error, allowing the run to score for a 3-2 Cardinals lead.
Carlos Beltran followed with his first career World Series RBI on a single to
right and the Cardinals had suddenly doubled up the Red Sox.
"Everyone was starting to feel pretty good," said Wacha. "Everyone came in,
had all the confidence in the world that we were going to put up runs, and
they really picked me up. And it was a lot of fun to watch."
Wacha was in line for the loss before the rally, which gave him a win and
moved him to 4-0 in his four postseason starts. He gave up three hits and
struck out six in his six innings -- good enough on this night.
"It's the World Series, a big-time game," Wacha said. "So I just tried to use
it to my advantage to go out and pitch with some adrenaline, and just try to
block out the fans and the crowd."
Wacha helped the Cardinals end Boston's nine-game World Series winning streak,
which began with a sweep of St. Louis in 2004. He was the first pitcher to
beat the Red Sox at home in the World Series since 1986. The series is tied
1-1 going back to St. Louis.
"The kid continues to impress," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "I don't
know what else you could ask. Put him on any stage and he does a real nice job
of limiting distractions.
"He stuck with his strengths and really went out and was aggressive, and
that's exactly what we needed him to do."
The Sports Network