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BOSTON -- They named a milkshake in St. Louis after Cardinals rookie sensation Michael Wacha. Now, the good folks of St. Louis may have to name the Gateway Arch after him.
Wacha, putting on the greatest rookie pitching performance in postseason history this month, had a little hiccup, but still continued his October domination by making the Boston Red Sox his latest victims.
The Cardinals knocked off the Red Sox, 4-2, behind Wacha's gem and the Red Sox follies at Fenway Park, evening the World Series at one-game apiece, but clearly shifting the momentum to the Cardinals.
The next three games are scheduled at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and if the series returns to Boston, Mr. Wacha will be the one greeting them.
Certainly, there's no guarantee there will be a need for Wacha to pitch again this season. The Cardinals have the pitching matchups they want in the next three games, with Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and ace Adam Wainwright scheduled against struggling Jake Peavy, a fatigued Clay Buchholz, and a rosin-less Jon Lester.
Yes, the Cardinals may not be making a stink out of Lester's glove from Game 1, but you can be assured the umpiring crew will take matters in their own hands, and prohibit any foreign substances from appearing in his glove this time.
Wacha, who set a postseason rookie record by pitching 18 2/3 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run, is the man who turned around this series. He suffocated the Red Sox's powerful lineup, with the exception of that old dynamic duo of Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.
Ortiz, the only player remaining from the last time these two teams met in the 2004 World Series, threatened to put a quick end to this Series. He hit a two-run, sixth inning homer on a 3-and-2 changeup that gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead, ending Wacha's domination.
Yet, the Red Sox, who had won nine consecutive World Series games, suddenly stole a page out of the Cardinals' Bad News Bears Game 1 playbook. They managed to turn Matt Carpenter's bases-loaded sacrifice fly into a three-run circus, with two errors by two different players.
Just like that, the Cardinals had a 4-2 lead, and those Wacha milkshakes were being chugged in the Lou, and washed down with cans of Budweiser.
Wacha was dazzling on the big stage, becoming only the fourth pitcher in history to yield one or no runs in his first 25 postseason innings, joining Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Don Sutton.
Pedroia and Ortiz were the only Red Sox players who had a clue against him. Pedroia hit a double in the fourth inning, and then drew the key walk in the sixth, setting up Ortiz's home run.
Pedroia, of course, benefited from a little inside information. He called his old college coach, Pat Murphy, whose Triple-A Tucson club faced Wacha when he was still pitching for Memphis.
"I told him good luck facing this guy,'' Murphy said, "because when we faced him, we didn't even hit a foul ball off him for seven innings. But then I told him, "Hey, it doesn't matter what he's got. You're Dustin [expletive] Pedroia.''
The pep talk may have worked for Pedroia, but it was of no help for the rest of the Red Sox, who suddenly must regroup. They were nine outs away from a commanding 2-0 lead, a deficit in which only one team has recovered from in the last 16 instances.
The series may be 1-1, but suddenly, it feels like this 22-year-old kid from Texarkana, Texas, has turned the series into a huge Cardinals' advantage.