As the 2013 World Series shifts back to Fenway Park for Game 6, the Boston Red Sox are now one win away from winning their third championship in 10 seasons. The game on Wednesday will feature a rematch from Game 2 that saw St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitcher Michael Wacha outduel tough-luck loser John Lackey, 4-2.

Against Wacha in that game, Boston was able to drive up the young pitcher’s pitch count (114) to where he was out of the game by the end of the sixth inning. In order for them to avoid a Game 7 they will need to have the same approach of being patient against his changeup, which is his swing-and-miss pitch.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny will have a quicker hook than usual with Wacha, as the Cardinals cannot afford to fall behind in the early innings. Jumping on him early may just force a knee-jerk reaction from Matheny to bring in a less-talented pitcher.

Wacha was far more effective in the regular season against left-handed hitters (.197 opponent batting average) than right-handers (.242). Shane Victorino’s presence could be a significant factor in this game if he is able to play.

Assuming Victorino and catcher David Ross are in the lineup, Boston will have six right-handed batters against Wacha. They need to take advantage of every possible matchup if they want to get something going against a pitcher who has now given up three runs in 27 postseason innings.

This is the second elimination game Wacha has been faced with this postseason. He was absolutely dominant against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 4 of the NLDS.

While the PNC Park crowd was certainly raucous for that game, the World Series stage is a different animal when facing elimination.

“It’s just a game,” Wacha told “I try not to get caught up in the moment. Try to stay composed on the mound. We know what’s in front of us now, and we need to keep on winning.”

Whether or not he is nervous, his pure pitching ability can be enough to neutralize the Red Sox lineup. The onus is on Boston to not chase his diving changeup, which is often down and out of the strike zone.

The question is, can some of the team’s struggling hitters lay off that pitch, especially if the Cardinals finally pitch around David Ortiz? It will certainly be difficult given how phenomenal Wacha has proven to be.

How do you see Boston’s approach against Wacha changing from game 2?


(All statistics obtained via Baseball Reference).



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