Rookie's roll, Cards season both end

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 24, 2013
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 NL division series, the Los Angeles Dodgers twice in the NL 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 11 p.m. ''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 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 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 actually started out well Wednesday. In the first inning, he struck out Jacoby Ellsbury, got Dustin Pedroia on a grounder to second and walked David Ortiz, not a bad idea considering Ortiz entered the game batting .733 in the Series. Then he fanned Mike Napoli. He started the second by allowing a single to Jonny Gomes and a walk to Shane Victorino. But Xander Bogaerts and Stephen Drew fouled out and David Ross struck out. Wacha was in a similar jam in the third with runners at first and second and two outs. But he hit Gomes with a pitch to load the bases, the first time Wacha had done that in the majors. Then Victorino, who had been hitless in 10 at bats in the series, cleared the bases with a double off the Green Monster. Victorino pounded his chest three times and yelled as he took third on the throw to the plate. Wacha could only watch after the first postseason hit against him with runners in scoring position. Then he ended the inning by fanning Bogaerts. His next pitch, though, was a bad one. Stephen Drew, just 1 for 16 in the Series, hit it into the Red Sox bullpen in right field for a homer. Wacha was replaced with two outs and runners at first and third, and reliever Lance Lynn allowed two RBI singles. 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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