Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

October 31, 2013

Wacha hit hard as Cardinals' season concludes

BOSTON — Michael Wacha has plenty of brilliant performances to reflect on from his rookie season.

Just give him some time to get over his worst.

The hard-throwing St. Louis Cardinals right-hander failed when his team needed him most, allowing six runs in 3 2-3 innings as the Boston Red Sox went on to a 6-1 win in Game 6 and their third World Series championship in 10 years on Wednesday night.

Reminiscing about his 4-0 record and 1.00 ERA in his other four postseason games will have to wait.

"It's a little too soon to reflect on it," Wacha said, shaking his head from side to side. "It's hard right now. It's not a good feeling. Maybe in a week or so I'll be able to look back. Getting to the World Series is a tremendous accomplishment for this club, but it still hurts."

And somewhat hard to believe.

The 22-year-old Wacha allowed just one hit in his last regular-season start and one in his first postseason start.

But on Wednesday he had trouble throwing the ball where he wanted to, especially when he fired a fastball right down the middle that Shane Victorino lined off the Green Monster for a bases-clearing double that made it 3-0 in the third inning.

"It's an elimination game," Wacha said. "It doesn't matter how hard you're throwing if you can't locate and I wasn't able to do that."

He looked nothing like the pitcher who shut down the Pittsburgh Pirates once in the NL division series, the Los Angeles Dodgers twice in the championship series where he was the MVP, and the Red Sox in Game 2 of the World Series.

So his season that began in the minors ended in disappointment on the Fenway Park mound.

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 27 postseason innings.

"You got a kid that's been out there and so impressive," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The game is going to catch up with everybody."

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

The Cardinals led the NL 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 batted .167 with runners in scoring position after setting a franchise record of .330 during the regular season.

They didn't score for Wacha on Wednesday.

"He's trying," said right fielder Carlos Beltran, who reached the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career. "He did so good for us and the reason why we're here is because of him.

"He wanted to go out there and give us a chance to win, but at the same time we could have picked him up offensively and go out there and score runs for him and we didn't do that."

David Freese was one of the most glaring failures in the Cardinals lineup. The 2011 World Series MVP went 3 for 19 with seven strikeouts and no RBIs.

"It's tough not coming through and not putting runs on the board," Freese said, "especially with Wacha on the mound and trying to get to Game 7."

Wacha gave up just one hit in the first two innings before allowing the double by Victorino, who had been hitless in all 10 Series at-bats. It was the first postseason hit against him with runners in scoring position.

Another slumping hitter, Stephen Drew, tagged his first pitch in the fourth for a solo homer, just his second hit in 17 Series at-bats. Wacha was replaced with two outs and runners at first and third, and reliever Lance Lynn allowed two RBI singles.

Last year, Wacha was pitching at Texas A&M. He started this season in the minors. He didn't make his major league debut until May 30 and it was a good one - just one run in seven innings against the Kansas City Royals.

On Oct. 30, it all ended.

"I didn't want to win it for myself. I wanted to win it for these guys in the clubhouse who have been working all year," Wacha said. "I just let the team down. It's not a very good feeling, that's for sure."

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