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Wednesday, 30 October 2013 20:48

Game 6 Preview: Could Tonight Be The Night?

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The Boston Red Sox enter game 6 of the 2013 World Series with a 3-2 series lead, and look to deliver the St. Louis Cardinals a final knock out punch as the series shifts to Fenway. Boston will send to the mound the veteran right hander, John Lackey, for the potential series clincher. The Cardinals will oppose with rookie phenom, Michael Wacha. Tonight could serve as the culmination of John Lackey’s rise from the ashes in Boston. After inking a 4 year deal worth $86 million back in 2009, Lackey quickly fell out of favor with the majority of Red Sox fans and media during his first 2 seasons, thanks in part to poor performance and off-field issues. After missing all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery, most wondered if he was even worth keeping around. Therefore, Lackey dedicated his offseason to getting into top physical shape. In turn, the right hander threw like an new pitcher, and even physically looked like a new pitcher. So when the 2013 season began, so to did the resurgence of John Lackey. The Red Sox number 3 starter changed the public perception about himself as he turned in good-to-dominate starts seemingly each time through the rotation. Lackey finished the year with a 3.52 ERA in 29 starts with a 4.03 K/BB. In the playoffs, Lackey has had in 3 solid starts and one unexpected, but successful, relief appearance during Boston run to the World Series. Over 19 innings pitched, Lackey holds a 3.26 ERA and has yielded batters to a .219/.275/.288 slash line this postseason. Contrary to Lackey, St. Louis’s game 6 starter’s career is just getting started. The Cardinals rookie, Michael Wacha has been nothing short of phenomenal when he has toed the rubber this season. Wacha’s dominance began during the regular season when he pitched in 15 games and boasted a 2.78 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP. During the playoffs, the 22 year old has been able to carry over his regular season success. In 4 starts the right hander has a 1.00 ERA over 27 innings and has allowed just 11 hits and 3 runs. But now the biggest game of Wacha’s young career comes with the World Series hanging in the balance. Now that they’re back at Fenway Park, the Red Sox will no longer need to figure out how to compensate for void in the lineup left due to Mike Napoli’s absence. Not only do the Red Sox welcome back Napoli at first base and return Ortiz to designated hitter, but they also get Shane Victorino back in right field. Victorino had missed the previous two games with lower back tightness which, considering all Victorino has played through, was apparently very substantial. But while the mainstays in the Red Sox line up seem to have returned to their positions, John Farrell gave the batting order a bit of a face lift. The second spot in the order usually occupied by Shane Victorino was instead given to Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli have slid up to the 3rd and 4th spot respectively, and Victorino drops to the 6th spot behind Jonny Gomes. The Cardinals line up will likely remain status quo for the most part. But is set to receive some fine tuning as the series shifts back to Fenway. Allen Craig will no longer have to hobble around the infield for the sake of keeping his bat in the line up, as he will serve as designated hitter and bat clean up on Wednesday night. Matt Adams will then take over at first base for Craig and will batt 6th in the Cardinals line up. Jon Jay will also retake his position in center field and bat 8th after Shane Robinson was given a start in game 5. The 2013 Boston Red Sox rise from worst to first certainly deserves to come to a rejoiceful end at Fenway Park on Wednesday night. Not only would such a win secure Boston’s third World Series since 2004 but it will also mark the first time that the Red Sox have clinched a World Series at Fenway Park since 1918.