Michael Wacha, John Lackey Square Off in Repeat Matchup in Rare Recent World Series to Go to Game 6

john lackeyThe Cardinals appear to have made one of the best decisions in franchise history when they passed up giving future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols some $250 million when Pujols became a free agent after the 2011 season. Not only did St. Louis save the money by not matching the Angels’ offer, but the Cardinals also got a compensatory first-round pick.

That pick was No. 19 overall in the 2012 draft, and the Cardinals chose pitcher Michael Wacha of Texas A&M with it. Wacha looks like a future Cy Young winner, and he’s been nearly unhittable in the playoffs so far.

Wacha gets the ball in Wednesday night’s Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park. The Sox were -115 Bovada favorites against Wacha in Game 2 and will be around that number again behind John Lackey, with live betting available.

This is only the third time since 2004 that a Fall Classic will go at least six games. The Cardinals went down 3-2 in 2011 against Texas and won the final two games at home for their most recent title. The last team before that to rally from a 3-2 hole and win was the 2002 Angels, who won their final two at home against San Francisco. The last World Series Game 6 for Boston is one Sox fans would rather forget, but that was on the road. Boston hasn’t won a Fall Classic at home since 1918.

As for Wacha, he may be in line for World Series MVP honors should he pitch well again Wednesday and the Cards win the World Series. He won Game 2, allowing three hits and two earned runs in six innings in the 4-2 victory. Boston’s runs came on David Ortiz‘s sixth-inning homer, which briefly gave the Sox a 2-1 lead. St. Louis then scored three runs in the top of the seventh.

That’s the only time Wacha has faced Boston in his career. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia had the other Boston hits. Xander Bogaerts struck out in both of his at-bats against Wacha. Mike Napoli, who will be back at first base with the designated hitter returning, was 0-for-2 with a walk against Wacha, who is 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in four postseason starts. Counting his final regular-season start, Wacha has given up just three runs and 12 hits while striking out 37 over his past 35 2/3 innings. He’s looking to become only the third pitcher with five wins in a single postseason (Randy Johnson, Francisco Rodriguez).

Lackey has already made another World Series appearance since facing off against Wacha in Game 2. Instead of getting his usual side work Sunday, he pitched an inning of scoreless relief, his first relief appearance in nine years. Lackey was charged with the Game 2 loss, allowing three runs and five hits over 6 1/3 innings while striking out six. Lackey struck out Allen Craig to start the top of the seventh before David Freese walked and Jon Jay singled. Craig Breslow ended up letting that game get away in relief.