October 31, 2013 in Sports

Cardinals’ Wacha comes down to earth

Howard Ulman Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

St. Louis Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, left, exits Wednesday after allowing six runs in 3 2/3 innings.
(Full-size photo)

BOSTON – Michael Wacha’s masterful pitching run is over. So is the St. Louis Cardinals’ season.

The 22-year-old rookie, who burst on the major league scene with the poise of a veteran, failed on baseball’s biggest stage.

Wacha allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings Wednesday night and the Boston Red Sox went on to a 6-1 win in Game 6 for their third World Series title in 10 years.

He looked nothing like the hard-throwing right-hander who shut down the Pittsburgh Pirates once in the N.L. division series, the Los Angeles Dodgers twice in the N.L. championship series where he was the MVP, and the Red Sox in Game 2 of the World Series.

When he needed to save the season of the team that tied the Red Sox for most regular-season wins, he couldn’t.

And that ended a trip to Boston that started poorly. The Cardinals’ flight from St. Louis on Tuesday took off about 9:10 p.m., roughly six hours late, and arrived shortly after 1.

“Nobody is in a bad mood or anything like that,” Wacha said in a conference call from the plane, a few hours into the delay. “The attitude is pretty good.”

Then the plane landed.

The six runs Wacha allowed were twice as many as he gave up in his other four postseason games combined. The five hits he allowed were nearly half the 11 he gave up in his other 23 postseason innings.

And, like the St. Louis other starting pitchers, he got little support.

The Cardinals led the N.L. with 4.8 runs per game but scored only 14 runs in the World Series, an average of 2.3. In the six games against Boston, they hit .224 and batted .167 with runners in scoring position.

One of the biggest culprits was 2011 World Series MVP David Freese. He went 3 for 19 with seven strikeouts and no RBIs.

Wacha started out well. In the first inning, he struck out Jacoby Ellsbury, got Dustin Pedroia on a grounder to second, walked David Ortiz and fanned Mike Napoli.Wacha had been 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his other four postseason starts, outstanding for someone who was pitching at Texas A&M last year. He didn’t make his major league debut until May 30 when he allowed one run in seven innings against the Kansas City Royals.

On Oct. 30, it all ended.

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