Game 5 brought us a true pitching duel and the first game in which neither team made an error. That was about time, because both teams had already combined to make eleven errors in the first four games of the World Series, the highest stage of all in which we'd expect to see the best players in the game compete for the title.
Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright were cruising through the first six innings and the score was just 1-1 heading into the top of the seventh. That's when the tides turned for Wainwright, who had struck out ten at that point. He looked like he had run out of gas, which is not strange, knowing that he has already pitched over 270 innings this season. A one-out single by rookie Xander Bogearts started the rally for the Sox. Stephen Drew walked and David Ross followed with a go-ahead RBI groundrule double.
Jon Lester failed to drive in the runners on second and third, but was picked up by Jacoby Ellsbury who added an insurance run with a two out RBI single. Lester did earn his secon win of the series with 7.2 strong innings in which he only allowed one run on four hits and struck out seven. Koji Uehara closed out the game with a perfect inning and a third.
Another historic Game 6?
In the history of the World Series, Game Sixes have often been the best games in the series. That means that we're likely in for a good one tonight. The Cardinals had their backs against the wall in a very similar situation when they faced elimination against the Texas Rangers in 2011. In a true postseason classic third base man David Freese tied the game with an RBI-triple in the ninth and he hit a walk off home run in the eleventh, after having seen the Rangers take the lead again in the tenth. They ended up winning the World Series as they took Game 7 as well.
The Red Sox have a mixed track record in historic Game 6's. They probably played two of the most historic Game Sixes ever. In 1975 they were on the right side of the score when Carlton Fisk waved his walk off home run fair, but in 1986 they lost their 3-2 series lead and the chance to win their first World Series in almost sixty years when Bill Buckner, rather notoriously, let the ball roll between his legs into right field so the Mets were able to win the game. They would eventually loose both series and would not win one until 2004, a series that took only four games (just like in 2007 when they repeated).
The last time a Red Sox team won a World Series that went to Game 6? 1918, when they beat the Chicago Cubs (who else?) 4-2.
Game 6 pitching matchup
John Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA)
This is the exact same matchup we saw in Game 2 of this Fall Classic. The Cardinals won that game 4-2 and both hurlers pitched well. Rookie Wacha went six and allowed two runs to pick up the win, while Lackey went 6.1 and allowed three. The third and game winning run scored on a throwing error by Lackey's reliever Craig Breslow.
Wacha is 4-0 this October with a 1.00 ERA and has been the revelation off this postseason. Lackey has also been good for the Red Sox and has been in this position before. He won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series when his Angels clinched the title against the San Francisco Giants. He did pitch an inning in relief in Game 5, so might not go as deep into this game as we would normally expect him to.
At home in Fenway Park the Red Sox have to be the favorites to take Game 6 and the World Series title and the bookies agree (-118). The Cardinals, however, have historically been great in games in which they had their backs against the walls. Look for the unbeaten Michael Wacha and third base man David Freese to come up big and give the underdogs a chance to clinch a Game 7 (+108).
The season could be over after this one, but let's be honest: there's only one thing better than a World Series Game 6 and that's a World Series Game 7. Enjoy tonight's game and hopefully we'll see you back here tomorrow!