Wacha and Charity: The Cardinals Steal Game Two

In Game One, the Cardinals booted away any chances they had to best an effective pitcher and a relentlessly-patient offense. Tonight it was the Red Sox who made the mistakes. As a result, St. Louis took home a 4-2 win and evened the Series at one game apiece.

In the seventh inning, one of baseball’s smartest players made a pair of not-so-smart decisions. Yale-educated left-hander Craig Breslow came on to replace John Lackey with one out, runners on first and second, and Boston leading by a score of 2-1. He proceeded to forget about the runners.

Paying them little heed, Breslow allowed Pete Kozma and Jon Jay to execute a double-steal. Following a walk to Daniel Descalso, he committed an error that allowed the winning run to score. Backing up home plate on a game-tying sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter, Breslow airmailed an ill-advised throw into left field. Jay came in to make it 3-2 Cardinals.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia shared the blame for both plays. On the double-steal, he may have had a shot at the lead runner.

“It just popped of my glove,” said the Boston catcher. “I might have got big-eyed and tried to get too big too quick. It was a great pitch to throw on, and [Kozma] didn’t have a good jump, so I think he would have been out had I been able to transfer the ball.”

On the play at the plate, Saltalamacchia failed to catch a tailing one-hop throw from left-fielder Jonny Gomes.

“The throw took me a little bit to the right and I kind of tried to lean for it,” explained Saltalamachhia. “It was one of those plays where you’re kind of do-or-die. I could have just let them score, and just caught the ball, but I was trying to get the out.”

Breslow was also trying to get an out when he attempted to gun down Jay going from second to third. He said after the game it was the right play, but in reality, a good throw wouldn‘t have been in time. Breslow should have held onto the ball.

Jay, who had reached on a single, was happy to take advantage of the mistake.

“I was just being aggressive and trying to get to third,” said Jay. “I saw the ball go off to the side and took a chance. You just never know what’s going to happen. I took a chance and it was able to work out for us.”

The defensive lapses were Boston’s undoing, but quality at bats by St. Louis hitters were equally big. With one out, David Freese worked an eight-pitch walk. Jay lined a single on a 1-2 count. After Kozma pinch ran for Freese, Desclso worked a seven-pitch walk. Carpenter’s sacrifice fly was followed by a Carlos Beltran RBI single than brought in the fourth and final run.

“They were good at bats,” said hitting coach John Mabry. “They did a good job of being selective and getting a pitch they wanted to do something with. They didn’t try to do too much. Sometimes good pitching forces your hand and you don’t get a chance to look at too many pitches, but in that inning, [Descalso] took a big walk and kept the rally going.”

As for the pitching, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal limited the Red Sox to four hits. The only damage came via a David Ortiz home run off Wacha in his sixth and final frame. Martinez and Rosenthal combined to strike out six over three innings of relief.

Wacha worked hard for the win. He walked four batters and threw 114 pitches, many in high-stress situations. That could be a concern going forward. As impressive as he’s been in the post-season, one has to wonder how many bullets are left in the gun.

Wacha has thrown 176.2 innings this year, and tonight’s outing put him in the record books. According to Jeff Zimmerman, since 1900, no player in big-league history amassed more innings in his first-full professional season and pitched in the World Series the same year. Daisuke Matsuzaka tossed 204 innings in 2007, but had pitched professionally in Japan.

According to Saltalamacchia, Wacha pitched like a seasoned veteran in his first World Series appearance.

“He throws strikes,” said the Boston catcher. “We had some good innings where he walked a couple of guys, but other than that, he didn’t get behind too often. He’s got a good fastball, good downward angle, and his changeup is pretty good. He knew how to pitch and did a great job.”



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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.


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Todd
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Todd

Wacha wasn’t as sharp tonight as in his previous postseason outings, and it showed with the walks (incidentally, I think your post yesterday about the patience of the Red Sox was more applicable today- fewer hits, but more walks, and they really drove up the pitch count). Matheny needs to learn how to monitor his pitchers. Why wasn’t Choate or Siegrist up and ready for Ortiz in the 6th?

As for Wacha running out of gas, at this point he needs to make at most one more start, so I’m not too worried there.

JeremyR
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JeremyR

Because Ortiz has hit Choate well (small sample size, but likely on MM’s mind) and Siegrist got clobbered in the first game.

Wacha gave up the HR, but finished the inning.

Conversely, the Red Sox manager yanked his starter quickly, yet the bullpen came in and gave up 3 runs.

chuckb
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chuckb

Farrell should have had Breslow in to face Jay — so not quite early enough. If he gets Jay, he likely gets out of the inning with Carpenter’s fly ball.

Travis L
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Travis L

Are you defending or explaining Matheny’s poor decision making process?

The comp with the Sox bullpen isn’t applicable. The Cardinals pen is extremely strong.

And the 3 runs doesn’t mean pulling Lackey was the right move (SSS).

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