Wednesday's Red Sox-Cardinals World Series Game 6 matchups: John Lackey vs. Michael Wacha

October 30, 2013 - 4:56 am

On Wednesday night, John Lackey has the opportunity to go from one of the Red Sox'€™ most vilified, criticized players to an indelible postseason hero. But in order to complete that transformation, he must get past the Cardinals and starter Michael Wacha on Wednesday night in Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park. Boston finds itself one game away from baseball's most coveted honor, after the Sox took a 3-2 series lead with a 3-1 win in Game 5 on Monday at Busch Stadium. In addition to his shot at a full revitalization, Lackey receives the chance to redeem a Game 2 loss against Wacha, after the rookie outdueled his elder counterpart in St. Louis'€™ 4-2 win. Last Thursday, Lackey and Wacha nearly matched each other pitch-for-pitch through 5 1/3 innings. The Cardinals led 1-0, thanks to a RBI groundout by Yadier Molina in the top of the fourth inning that scored Matt Holliday, who tripled to begin the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, David Ortiz finally got to Wacha and struck with his second home run of the series, an opposite-field two-run shot that put Boston ahead 2-1. After allowing the RBI groundout in the fourth, Lackey cruised through the next two innings, and manager John Farrell opted to send him out for the seventh. The decision looked to pay off initially as Lackey struck out Allen Craig for the first out. However, David Freese walked, Jon Jay singled, and with Lackey'€™s pitch count at 95, Farrell pulled him in favor of lefty reliever Craig Breslow. St. Louis went on to score three runs in the inning and took a 4-2 lead that Boston could not overcome. Lackey ended the start with three runs allowed, five hits, two walks and six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. After the sixth inning, when he allowed the two-run home run to Ortiz, Wacha gave way to young relievers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal, who shut the door on the Sox. Wacha pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs, three hits and four walks with six strikeouts. He moved to 4-0 in the postseason. Lackey also impacted Game 4 at St. Louis, as he made his first relief appearance since 2004. Farrell inserted him into the eighth inning with Boston leading 4-2 to bridge the gap to Koji Uehara. Lackey accomplished that, as he threw a scoreless inning, and Uehara finished up for the 4-2 win. "It was definitely a little different," Lackey said after the game. "I hadn't run in from the bullpen in a lot of years. David [Ross] was great back there calming me down. I've been out there enough times to know you've just got to make pitches. It doesn't matter what inning it is. I'm trying to get three outs to get it to the closer." At the start of this season, Lackey looked like a disastrous free agent acquisition. Signed to a five-year, $82.5 million, Lackey averaged a 5.26 ERA in his first two seasons with the Red Sox, before sitting out 2012 with Tommy John surgery. This season, Lackey (10-13, 3.52 ERA) posted his lowest ERA since 2007. Wacha carried a successful -- albeit brief -- regular season into the playoffs. The rookie maintained a 2.78 ERA in 64 2/3 regular-season innings (with a 4-1 record), but he'€™s even elevated his pitching in October. In four playoff starts, Wacha has a 1.00 ERA in 27 innings with 28 strikeouts. When Wacha and Lackey matched up in Game 2, it was the first time each pitcher faced the opposition. Cardinals vs. Lackey (RHP) Carlos Beltran (15 plate appearances): .083 BA/.200 OBP/.083 SLG, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts Matt Holliday (11): .100/.182/.300, 1 triple, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Yadier Molina (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 RBI Matt Adams (4): .250/.250/.250 Jon Jay (4): .250/.250/.250 David Freese (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Matt Carpenter (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Daniel Descalso (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Tony Cruz, Allen Craig, Kolten Wong, Pete Kozma and Shane Robinson have not faced Lackey. Red Sox vs. Wacha (RHP) David Ortiz (3): .500 BA/.667 OBP/2.000 SLG, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk Dustin Pedroia (3): .500/.667/1.000, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Jacoby Ellsbury (3): .333/.333/.333 Mike Napoli (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Shane Victorino (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Jonny Gomes (3): .000/.000/.000 Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 walk Xander Bogaerts (2): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts Stephen Drew (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout David Ross, Will Middlebrooks, Quintin Berry, Mike Carp and Daniel Nava have not faced Wacha.